Reprint from Additive Manufacturing 

Manufacturing technology supplier Extol has always served customers who are producing polymer parts. Now, it’s making some of those parts in-house through 3D printing, providing new options ranging from functional prototyping into bridge production and beyond.

As the automakers centered in Detroit have been chasing electrification and faster, more agile product development, a manufacturer on the other side of the state of Michigan has felt a shift in the supply chain for polymer parts. In the past, vehicle development was slower, more in line with the lead times expected for injection mold tooling. If new plastic parts couldn’t be sourced in time, automakers often had the option to pull from inventory developed for previous years’ models to get cars into testing and fulfill early purchases. But electric vehicles often don’t have this luxury; whether developed by startups or legacy OEMs, EVs tend to be new vehicle platforms without legacy parts to fall back on — and they are being launched into the market at accelerated rates, creating a demand for faster production.