US car-maker General Motors (GM) has opened a 15,000 sq ft 3D printing factory in Warren, Michigan.
The "Additive Industrialisation Centre" contains 24 printers that can produce polymer and metal elements for use in tools or vehicles.
GM says printed products can be developed more efficiently than by conventional means. For example, it produced brake-cooling ducts with a saving of nine weeks in time and 60% in cost.
Printing also allows smaller parts to be consolidated into a whole, creating lighter and less complex products. The factory will produce tools printed from lightweight material such as nylon carbon fibre, as opposed to aluminium.
Audley Brown, GM’s director of additive design and materials engineering, commented: "The core component of GM’s transformation is to become a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission.
"Compared with traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months at a significantly lower cost."
Images courtesy of General Motors/Steve Fecht