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3D Printing Materials for Automotive Manufacturing
Resource Guide

Choosing the Right 3D Printing Materials for Automotive Manufacturing

3D Printing Materials for Automotive

Additive manufacturing (AM) technology comes in multiple flavors, with certain technologies being a better fit for some auto applications than others. It’s a topic we cover in our companion Solution Guide “How to Choose the Right 3D Printing Technology for Automotive Manufacturing.” But once you’ve chosen the appropriate AM technology, it’s all about what materials 3D printers use.

And we’re here to say that polymer 3D printing offers a sweet spot for the automotive industry. That’s true for several reasons, because compared to metal 3D printing, polymer AM offers:

  • Fewer resource constraints (facilities, training, safety)
  • Greater accessibility and ease of use
  • Broad material capabilities and price points
  • Lightweight but strong options for applications where it can replace metal

With such a wide range of polymers – from thermoplastics to thermosets to photopolymers – how do you know which material to choose and the use cases where each is appropriate? That’s the challenge this Material Guide will clarify by highlighting the Stratasys AM technologies and materials suitable for each phase of automotive production, including product development, production support and part production.

Leave the competition in the dust. Drive your automotive designs forward with Stratasys 3D printing materials for automotive manufacturing.

Download the Material Guide

Additive Manufacturing Materials for Product Development

Product development includes creating mock-ups, models, and prototypes to develop, refine and validate design concepts. Additive manufacturing is beneficial at this stage for the automotive industry because AM technology makes parts without any support tooling, accelerating the design and ideation process.

AM materials best suited for this phase of automotive production include polymers with a broad color selection and texture capabilities, able to reproduce or mimic the look and feel of other materials.

This makes them an optimal choice for concepts and prototypes that need to represent their finished configuration – particularly helpful for auto interiors, external molding and lighting. Other factors include easy printability, fine surface finish, and the ability to replicate other types of plastics like acrylic.

Additive Manufacturing Materials for Production Support

Production support comprises the tools and infrastructure to sustain the manufacturing process. 3D printing plays an important role, enabling more efficient ways to make and use tools across multiple departments and disciplines including R&D, assembly, quality control, health and safety, and others.

Additionally, 3D printing offers a fast, cost-effective solution for making surrogate parts. These parts stand in when the genuine parts are not yet available for tooling setup verification with new model-year production line changes. This can dramatically reduce the time for tooling validation and quickly identify where changes are needed, long before final parts and assemblies are available.


Additive Manufacturing Materials for Part Production & Spare Parts

Despite its origin as a rapid prototyping tool, 3D printing’s utility for automotive applications extends to the manufacture of end-use parts. Its benefit lies in overcoming limitations like manufacturability constraints or economic barriers due to production volume. Parts made with AM don’t require support tooling, bypassing a costly and time-consuming step in the production process.

With the other phases of auto production, the applications usually drive the best material choices. However, the process is a little different when producing end-use parts. That’s because your total part quantity plays a role in determining the best 3D printing technology to use – and that, in turn, controls your available material choices.


Choosing the Right 3D Printing Material for Automotive

When it comes to the additive manufacturing process, printer technology is important. But the right materials are the essential ingredients for success, and polymer 3D printing offers fertile ground to address many automotive applications. Polymers have the versatility to cover a wide range of use cases simply due to the scope of available materials. 

In addition, they have the properties and the aesthetic qualities to tackle applications from prototyping a lens cover to making ventilation scoops for every car fielded in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Download the complete material guide to know which Stratasys 3D printing material to use for each automotive application mentioned above.


The biggest benefit of 3D printing is definitely the time savings. The time for development and taking the tooling or a trial period down to a fraction of what it is with traditional methods is a huge benefit, especially when you’re trying to get to market on time at product launch.

Find the Best 3D Printing Materials for Your Automotive Manufacturing Needs

Polymer 3D printing is a highly effective tool for taking time and cost out of all phases of automotive production. Choose the right material to accelerate your success by downloading this 3D Printing Material Guide for Automotive Manufacturing.

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