Bentley uses 3D printing to prototype new designs [w/Video]
by Rufus Thompson    17 Sep 2013
3D printers allow designers to see how parts will look and work on the finished vehicle. Click for larger images
Tires and tire rims are just two of the parts that can be printed

3D printing is changing the way the world makes things by helping people of all disciplines to enhance and refine their ideas cheaply, quickly and effectively. 

Bentley is the latest carmaker to utilize the technology to fabricate and prototype different parts to see how they'll look and work on the finished design. Using 3D printers, designers can produce parts from the exterior and interior such as the grille, tires, headlamps and door handles as well as combine different types of contrasting materials, ranging from hard plastics to rubbers of different tensile strengths. 

The technology allows the user to create a solid 3D object straight from a digital model by printing layers of material on top of each other. This process rapidly decreases the delivery time, as parts can be printed overnight, and allows designers to be more creative in their ideas because of the reduced cost.

Bentley isn't the first carmaker to use 3D printing technology. Audi announced last year it was beginning to prototype vehicle parts using 3D printers. Car enthusiast and comedian Jay Leno has also been using 3D printers to produce parts he couldn't find anywhere else.

Earlier this year, Kor Ecologic, a Winnipeg-based design company, completed the first prototype of its Urbee car, which is the first to have its body 3D printed. A second prototype is now in development, which will have its entire exterior and interior 3D printed, and the company is working to make it the first road-legal printed car.

Those in the automotive industry aren't the only ones to benefit from the technology. The medical biotech, aerospace and engineering industries as well as the military are also regularly using 3D printers to produce vital components. Desktop versions are also rapidly increasing in popularity, meaning people will soon be able to see their creations quickly come to fruition in their own homes.

Check out the video on the left to find out more.

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