Applications of Additive Manufacturing in the Production of Automobile Parts from Polymers and Natural Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites
The rate of CO2 emissions from manufacturing industries and some manufactured products in service or at the end-of-life use is really troubling and needs attention. The CO2 contribution from the automotive or transportation industry is far higher than those of other sectors. Often times, the transportation industry uses materials such as steel and iron which are not only less ecofriendly but heavy as well. This increases the weight of vehicles thereby increasing fuel consumption which by default results to an increase in CO2 emissions. Also, some conventional methods of manufacturing often used in the automotive industry have a high energy requirement with associated CO2 emissions. That is why this research generally focuses on the evaluation of additive manufacturing (AM) as a novel method of manufacturing with a lower energy requirement. Specifically, this work focuses on: The preparation of computer aided design (CAD) model data of some automobile parts for 3D printing using PLA (Poly Lactic Acid). The investigation of the microstructures and mechanical properties of the 3D printed materials using the scanning electron microscope (SEM) and the Instron Universal Testing Machine respectively. We were able to show in this work that the application of AM in the automotive industry is possible and is capable of producing lightweight structures with enhanced mechanical properties. A theoretical assessment of the use of Natural Fiber-reinforced Polymers (NFRPC) in the production of 3D printing filaments for AM was made and found to have the capability of contributing in mitigating the effects of climate change due to CO2 emissions.