General Motors Plans to Use 3D Printed Parts to Meet Upcoming 2025 Fuel Economy Deadline

How Does GM Spearhead the 3D Printing Movement?

In the race to create an all-electric, zero emissions future, General Motors has raised the stakes and are all in. In May of 2018, the American automobile manufacturer entrusted the software company, Autodesk, with the task of implementing cutting-edge 3D printing technology to use for their vehicles. GM believes the 3D printing technology will enable them to achieve the goal of adding 20 fully electric vehicles into their line-up by the year 2023. This is one way of many wherein corporations everywhere are working to create greener living.

Raising the Standard

Back in 2012, the Obama administration implemented a revolutionary efficiency standard to raise the fuel economy. They expect the equivalence to be 54.5 mpg for all cars and light model trucks by the year 2025

Standards carried out by the U.S Department of Transportation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will force vehicle manufacturers to adapt to the new requirements. GM plans to invest in innovative and cutting-edge technology that will drive our economic completeness while providing Americans relief at the pump. The EPA continues to work with manufacturers of many different products to reduce waste and help reduce carbon footprints..

Getting Rid of Gas

According to the Administration, increasing efficiency standards will "nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, and U.S oil consumption by 12 billion barrels."

Other automobile manufacturers have also started working on new ways to help relieve stress at the pump. Nissan has debuted the first all-electric mobile workspace, that will allow you to take your home office on the go.

Printing the First Parts

3D Printing has been used to make prototypes in the automotive industry for years, but GM is going to being moving the technology into most of their car parts starting with seat brackets.

3D printed parts are 20% stronger and 40% lighter than typical aluminum or steel GM seat that currently consists of eight separate parts. Implementing a solid, single piece not only makes the overall vehicle lighter, but it will ultimately lower replacement costs.


Removing unnecessary weight in a vehicle is refered to as "light weighting". This term is commonly used in the automotive industry when building cars and trucks with a greatly reduced overall weight. Some parts that were made out of aluminum or steel are now being targeted for additional opportunities to utilize 3D Printed parts in cars.

GM hopes to significantly reduce the weight of all offered vehicles to help increase fuel efficiency and meet the 2025 efficiency standards. When 3D printing is not viable for select parts, making auto parts from carbon fiber, windshields from plastic, and bumpers out of aluminum foam, GM will be able to increase most of their vehicles fuel efficiency and add mileage to the gas tank.

Advanced Possibilities

With most 3D printing used for rapid prototyping for concepts and models, the usage of 3D printing in vehicles is new. Manufacturers have always dreamed of advancing 3D printing materials into vehicles for a while now. As the technology improves, so does the future of automotive design.

The main motivation is to reduce a vehicle's weight by removing heavy metal and aluminum parts. One limitation for achieving the goal is design option limitations with solid metals that don't assist the aerodynamic factor for fuel efficiency. Having the ability to add a variety of contours and different geometric shapes with 3D printed designs plays a large role in meeting the goals set by GM. Fuel efficiency greatly increases by factoring several aspects including

Limiting Friction

  • For every 10 MPH your speed increases, the average vehicle loses 12% of its MPG. Cars with a less dynamic shape and design will lose even more.
  • The sleek shape reduces friction that causes drag, essentially making the vehicle much heavier. A 3D printed car does not have the same design restrictions as molded or dye casted metal parts and can create sharp contours with the lightest material available.


Reducing Wind Drag

  • GM's new vehicle design will help to reduce their car's drag coefficient. The drag coefficient is how easily wind glides around and off of the car.
  • A design that allows wind to bounce or slide off of the surface weighs much less since it takes up less space. Less wind-drag leads to more power because the engine has less weight to accommodate fro when accelerating, making it a more efficient vehicle overall.

Reducing Momentum

Like momentum, the rolling factor applies to the friction that a vehicle creates. Most of the rolling index factor is seen by the friction created by rolling. However, harder tires would tear up paved roads that would lead to huge maintenance costs. Rubber tires effect fuel efficiency, but do not provide as much traction on wet surfaces. Each of these factors will be greatly reduced and even eliminated with the application of 3D printed parts.

GM and Autodesk plan to introduce two all-electric vehicles in 2019, but will continue to collaborate on designs before the 2025 fuel economy standards deadline. Be sure to check back for updates as we follow GM's ambition to create an entire electric fleet!


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David Chiodo
David Chiodo

Founder of Authentic Media Marketing Inc. Funny, brooding, and mysterious, David takes pride in everything he writes and doesn't mind ruffling a few feathers along the way.

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