At present, the application of 3D printing technology in the automotive field mainly includes:
① Rapid prototyping, as the development phase of a new model can take up to five years. During R&D, several part prototypes are inevitably developed and tested, which means quick design iterations and minimal lead times: this is one of the main selling points of additive manufacturing.
② 3D print manufacturing tools, such as jigs, to aid in production and assembly workflows. There's even potential for aftermarket applications to make parts that have become obsolete. 3D printing enables parts suppliers to print on demand, completely eliminating the need for parts inventory.
Just last month, sports car maker Porsche made a strategic investment in 3D printer manufacturer INTAMSYS to explore more ways 3D printing can be deployed in its own manufacturing operations. According to Porsche, 3D printing is an "component" of the digital manufacturing technology of the future, and therefore deserves a "long-term and sustained" investment.
Furthermore, Czech automaker Skoda recently announced that they have been using 3D printing to enhance their own workflow, bringing the production of prototypes, spare parts and tools in-house. Currently, Skoda has built a 3D printing farm, using systems developed by companies such as Prusa.
Skoda's print farm project is recognized by the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, image via Skoda
Before starting design work, Fraunhofer engineers used component screening software developed by 3D Spark to identify an automotive component suitable for demonstration studies.
During the early stages of the project, the team determined the most economical orientation of components in the build room. Engineers took into account the necessary support structures, as well as the number of parts they could fit in one build. The orientation optimization step resulted in a 15% cost savings compared to a 3D printed build that did not take these factors into consideration.
Next is topology optimization of the hinge arm itself. By reducing unnecessary material and strengthening only what is needed to simulate force flow, engineers were able to reduce the weight of the hinged arm by 35 percent. Subsequent material savings and shorter print times resulted in a further 20% cost savings.
The Fraunhofer team also calculated additional cost savings related to reduced post-processing (by reducing support structures) and choosing the best metal powder material for the job: 10% each.
Interestingly, the study found that even the build parameters used in the 3D printing process can lead to cost savings. For example, thicker layers, faster scan speeds and deformation of the laser beam profile all help reduce build times, cutting printing costs by another 15%.
Ultimately, this cost-centric approach to design enabled IAPT's engineers to 3D print the hinge at an 80 percent lower cost than its 3D printed counterpart that wasn't equally optimized. The cost and weight of the project were reduced by 50% and 35%, respectively, compared to their CNC-milled counterparts.
2022-05-03 11:00:39 | Published by yoyike | Source: Yoyike Author: @Joe Li
Tag: 3D printed sports car parts