Cadillac’s new [$300,000] world-beater, [the 2024 Celestiq], is an impressive machine. Whether you like the way it looks or not, its proportions scream Cadillac and it’s packed with all sorts of interesting technology. Among them is 3D printing, which has only been used sparingly in other low-volume production cars. The BMW i8 roadster had a few 3D-printed parts for instance, as do other vehicles like the Koenigsegg CC850. Usually, they’re small, relatively nonstructural, and not safety-critical, though. That’s changed with the Celestiq.
The massive sedan has 115 3D-printed parts, some of which ensure passenger safety and others that are very large and let buyers customize their vehicles. The steering wheel trim, for instance, is one massive metal 3D print. It requires no specific tooling to produce and, as such, it can be modified beyond just coatings, finishes, and surface treatments. Want your name embossed on the steering wheel? Cadillac can probably do it.
The window switches and console decor are also 3D-printed, meaning that GM can basically make a customer its own custom parts bin. That’s a far cry from even the Cadillac of today, where vehicles like the Escalade share window switches with the less-expensive Tahoe and other vehicles. The grab handles on the doors are also 3D-printed, meaning a customer can change them as they like with help from the automaker’s designers as well.
The safety-critical parts are the seat belt’s adjustable guide loops, which withstand a lot of force in the case of a crash. It’s doubtful a customer could or would want to customize these pieces, but it’s theoretically possible. The same can be said for the structural parts of the car which are made using additive manufacturing. Cadillac doesn’t specify where they are in the underbody. What is certain is that they speed up the design process, though. Again, the lack of specific tooling helps there. Cost and time to print usually hamstrings 3D printers but it’s well-known GM has not only an army of printers but plenty of time to build each Celestiq. It will never be putting together more than two every day.
Additive manufacturing is also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customization for the car. Pretty much anything a potential buyer wants in terms of upholstery, finishes, engraving, etc is all very possible. Certain crash-critical or other items concerning pedestrian safety are off limits, of course—Cadillac won’t print spikes on the front of the car for you—but in order to bring a proper fight to Rolls-Royce, GM is pulling out all of the stops.