protolabs automotive industry

Accelerating Automotive Product Development

Conquer ever-shortening product development cycles and create supply chain flexibility with rapid prototyping and low-volume production

The automotive industry is evolving fast. As industry trends like autonomous driving, on-board connectivity, and hybrid/electric vehicles continue to drive the innovation race, agility-minded automotive companies are turning to Protolabs to accelerate new product development and get to market faster. With quick-turn digital manufacturing and automated manufacturability feedback, designers and engineers can mitigate design and cost risks while developing a more responsive supply chain to better react to driver and passenger demand for more customised vehicles.

In Charge: Can Europe become a battery power in the electric age?

As the world electrifies its power and transport systems, Europe is racing to secure its place in the growing battery market.

During the spring of 2021, through a unique survey of 200 senior executives in the European battery industry, we explored the challenges and opportunities faced by the sector and evaluated the actions it is taking in response.

Why Protolabs for Automotive Development?

Rapid Prototyping

Mitigate design risk through rapid iteration and prototyping in production materials without sacrificing development speed.

Supply Chain Flexibility

Get on-demand support for line-down emergencies, part recalls, or other supply chain disturbances in your production plants by using automated quoting, rapid tooling, and low-volume production parts.

Quality Inspections

Validate part geometry with several quality documentation options. Detailed Measurement Report, PPAP, and FAI reporting are available.

Mass Customisation

Implement low-volume manufacturing to enable more diverse and customised automotive features that are tailored to modern drivers.

Tooling and Fixtures

Improve manufacturing processes to create greater automation and streamlined component assembly with custom fixturing.

trw automotive component

The renderings show top and bottom views of ZF's intricate clock spring assembly.

A Front Seat on Driving Innovation with ZF

Steering column control modules now integrate an expanding variety of functions into the steering wheel, offering drivers a host of functions for both safety and convenience. Providing connectivity between all of those helpful buttons and switches and the functions they control—from the turn signals and wipers to cruise control and even heating the steering wheel itself—is the job of the clock spring, a plastic disc about the size of a hockey puck that sits hidden under the steering wheel within the steering column control module. See how digital manufacturing helped reduce product development time for global tech company ZF FriedrichshafenREAD ZF SUCCESS STORY

What Materials Work Best for Automotive Applications?

red thermoplastic automotive parts manufactured by protolabs

Thermoplastics. Choose from hundreds of thermoplastics including PEEK, acetal, or supply your own material. Maintain branding with custom colourant for qualified projects.

nylon 3d printed automotive fan part produced by protolabs

Nylons. 3D print functional prototypes in several nylon materials available through selective laser sintering and Multi Jet Fusion. Glass-filled nylons improve mechanical properties when needed.

liquid silicone rubber fluorosilicone automotive part manufactured by protolabs

Liquid Silicone Rubber. Silicone rubber materials such as fuel-resistant fluorosilicone can be used for gaskets, seals, and tubing. An optical clarity silicone rubber is also available for lens and lighting applications.

Aluminum. This all-purpose metal used for light-weighting provides excellent strength-to-weight ratio and can be machined or 3D printed.


Our digital manufacturing capabilities accelerate the development of a range of metal and plastic automotive components. A few of common automotive applications include:

  • Assembly line components
  • Fixtures
  • Enclosures and housings
  • Plastic dash components
  • Aftermarket parts
  • Armatures
  • Lenses and lighting features
  • Support for on-board consumer electronics

aerospace industry get a quote background of machined cog wheels

Free mouldability analysis within hours