Season 2 Episode 7 Recap: From Horsepower to Laser Power: Can Additive Manufacturing Turbocharge the Auto Industry?

November 17, 2023

In this episode of Velo3D’s Laser Focused podcast, host Renette Youssef engages in a fascinating conversation with Ante Lausic, Lead Process Engineer at General Motors. With over a decade of experience in automotive, aerospace, and additive manufacturing, Ante’s insights are invaluable for anyone interested in the future of manufacturing technologies.

Discover the key highlights of their engaging conversation in our summary, and then dive deeper by listening to the full episode.

Click to access via Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts

The Journey to Additive Manufacturing

Ante’s journey into additive manufacturing is both unique and serendipitous. Initially drawn to engineering for its future job security, he found himself at the forefront of nanotechnology. This path led him to explore 3D printing, initially for its ‘cool factor’ but soon realizing its potential in industrial-scale manufacturing. His career reflects the evolution of 3D printing from a hobbyist’s pursuit to a key player in industrial manufacturing.

Beyond Car Parts: GM’s Approach to AM

Contrary to popular belief, GM’s use of additive manufacturing (AM) goes beyond printing car parts. Ante highlights that a significant part of their AM usage is in tooling – creating molds with conformal cooling channels for better casting, for instance. This approach not only enhances manufacturing efficiency but can also improve the quality of components used in vehicles.

The Rationale Behind Additive Tooling

Ante explains GM’s strategic choice of additive manufacturing for tooling. In this realm, they often need a few high-quality, high-performance components, and are willing to pay a premium for the advantages offered by AM. This includes making vehicles faster and safer and improving part quality. Metal additive manufacturing has thus become a major player in this field.

Advantages and Rapid Iteration in Manufacturing

One of the key advantages of additive manufacturing, as Ante points out, is the ability to rapidly iterate designs. This is especially beneficial in tooling, where additive processes allow for the creation of complex geometries for thermal control that traditional methods can’t achieve. Such advancements can lead to more parts being produced per year, which is a significant boon for mass production.

Changes and Challenges in the Industry

Reflecting on his 15 years in the field, Ante notes a significant shift in how additive manufacturing is perceived and utilized. The industry is moving towards understanding what can realistically be achieved with metal additive. However, challenges remain, notably in terms of speed and size of production. He emphasizes the need for bigger and faster machines to meet tooling demands for larger components.

Educating Engineers and Misconceptions

A significant part of Ante’s role at GM involves educating engineers about the capabilities and limitations of additive manufacturing. There’s a common misconception that complexity is free in additive manufacturing, which isn’t the case. Ante stresses the importance of understanding the balance between design possibilities and practical production volumes.

The Future of AM at GM

Looking ahead, GM aims to refine additive manufacturing processes to align more closely with automotive standards. This includes achieving the repeatability and scalability seen in traditional manufacturing methods. Ante envisions a future where additive manufacturing is a standard, reliable option in the automotive industry.

Listen to the Full Episode for In-Depth Insights

This summary only scratches the surface of the discussion between Renette and Ante. To fully grasp the intricacies of GM’s use of additive manufacturing and Ante’s expert insights, download and listen to the complete episode of Velo3D’s Laser Focused podcast.

This episode not only enlightens listeners about the current state of additive manufacturing in automotive but also sheds light on its promising future.

Follow our host, Renette Youssef:

Was this article helpful?

About the Author

Amir Iliaifar

Director of Content

Amir Iliaifar is the Director of Content at Velo3D where he oversees the production and distribution of Velo3D’s global digital content marketing initiatives. Prior to joining the company, Amir worked for a leading professional drone manufacturer, several SaaS companies, and as an automotive tech journalist. He holds a Master of Arts in Digital Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.