Additive ManufacturingAutomotive AM

Tesla Model Y teardown shows evidence of polymer deposition 3D printing in main AC unit

Automaker may have turned to 3D printing to address supply chain issues

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

Tesla fan website MunroLive published a teardown video of the new Tesla Model Y that was launched – quite softly – at the end of last March, in the midst of Coronavirus crisis-related supply chain issues. Possibly to address those issues, the video shows that the Model Y’s HVAC system integrates a partly 3D printed part.

Slant3D, a serial production AM factory using farms of extrusion system was the first to post the video. The firm points out on its blog that “the reason for the 3D printed part is unclear. Though it is likely to ensure production continues uninterrupted. The HVAC housing is an exceptionally large molded part. The cost and time of manufacturing are huge, even by injection molding standards. It would not be unsurprising if the mold for this part required 6-8 weeks to produce and cost as much as $250-500,000. That is a huge production delay, especially for the frenetic pace that Tesla Operates at.”

The original mold for the part likely contained an imperfection so it would have had to be redesigned and reproduced. This would have caused a launch delay in normal times and possibly even more so in COVID-19 times. So Tesla resorted to 3D printing. Judging by the images, the new part is not entirely 3D printed.

Rather, it looks as if Tesla used a kind of multi-axes polymer DED process to deposit material on the 3D surface of the injection molded part, so as to recreate the desired shape. Similar practices for part repair are somewhat common in metal cladding but has not yet been seen in polymer part production. Stratasys and Siemens (and Boeing and Ford) have been working on this kind of AM hardware, mainly for depositing composite materials.

With all the robotic arms automating production in Tesla’s factory, adding a polymer extrusion engine seems a relatively straight-forward process. The question remains whether this was just an emergency solution or the start of greater adoption of 3D printing by Tesla Motors.

Source: Slant3D blog

Consumer Products AM 2024

This new market study from VoxelMatters provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of polymer and metal AM in the consumer products industry across the three core segments of the additive manufactu...

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.