In every production line, improving efficiency is a number one priority. Consequently, in the automotive industry, the desire to produce safer and ‘smart’ cars led to a process called scene mapping. Through scene mapping, car manufacturers wanted to review the accident sites and analyze the general impact information. The collected information about accidents’ effects on cars encouraged manufacturers to improve their production lines and the industry safety standards for good.
Scene mapping opened the way for rapid prototyping, which has already existed for more than a decade. That technology affects and substitutes conventional models in the final phase of manufacturing and later transfers them into the production process.
Car manufacturers quickly brought new ideas and innovations into production by utilizing the latest rapid prototyping services and applications. Nowadays, car manufacturers need to build their car parts accurately to meet the industry safety standards, and rapid prototyping enables car parts to meet those requirements without a single error.
Each automobile manufacturer can have a quick and efficient production line while utilizing rapid prototyping. Flexibility in design is continuous by allowing easy transfer from one part to another. Producers now do that without interfering with the production cycle, quality loss, and consistency.
This article acknowledges rapid prototyping’s benefits and its applications in the automotive sector. So, read ahead to find out more about this advanced prototyping process, its methods, and how the automotive sector applies it in real-time manufacturing.
The Common Methods Of Creating Automotive Prototypes
Nowadays, the most common methods of creating automotive prototypes include:
- 3D Printing – Uses a 3D printing machine for producing models and prototypes to use later for developing products, design evaluation, and confirmation;
- CNC Automotive Prototype – Grind out of an acrylic block or PMMA, a fully operational prototype for testing through user circumstances;
- CNC Machining – A mechanical milling machine that constructs parts rapidly and precisely without human assistance;
- CNC Dashboard – Big prototype model that is separated and glued, which demonstrates how components fit together and verify proper air stream from the dashboard;
- Soft Tooling – Perfect for small-volume production of fewer than 50 parts using a silicone cast around a rapid prototype machining model or 3D printing pilot model that creates a replicable form.
Rapid prototyping enables automobile manufacturers to evaluate new product behavior fast. Once the standard testing is done, the prototype can move into the production phase. The automotive industry utilizes all the methods mentioned above for creating prototypes.
The Rapid Prototyping Techniques Utilized In The Automotive Sector Explained
The Application Of 3D Printing In The Automotive Industry
The commercial application share of 3D printing technology in the automotive sector is rare. Currently, the main application of 3D printing is using large printers to produce prototypes and models for further development of products. Plus, it’s used as a utensil for design confirmation and evaluation.
Vehicle designs often depend on feedback from customers. For instance, once the market information is gathered from the customer, the designers and engineers make conceptual designs and develop a prototype. Afterward, the design department forwards the 3D CAD model to the prototype producer for 3D printing.
The fabricated prototype model is later used for design evaluation and testing. In Western countries, manufacturers mostly make automotive prototypes by employing 3D printing even though it might be expensive. That’s because domestic labor costs are too much. So they have to utilize this method instead.
CNC Machining Employed In The Automotive Industry
A lot of prototype manufacturers favor the use of CNC prototyping technology to create automotive prototypes. CNC machinery is an automated milling device that produces industrial elements without direct human support. They use coded instructions sent to an internal computer allowing factories to fabricate parts accurately and quickly.
There are very different types of CNC machinery. In industrial surroundings, you can integrate CNC machines into entire tooling machine units that operate individually. They are totally under digital design guidance that removes the need to make physical design plans.
- CNC Dashboard – It’s a large prototype model. So, it has to be divided and glued. Prototype manufacturers prefer creating CNC dashboard prototype models by using ABS material. ABS is a thermoplastic material with outstanding resistance and resilience. It’s a lightweight substitute for metal exploited in dashboards. Before machining, the prototype is divided into many parts, milling out each of them one by one. Later, the prototypes are polished to be smooth and glued together, and then they are painted.
- This method of rapid prototyping saves much production expenses, and it doesn’t impact functional testing. With a CNC dashboard prototype, designers can verify the proper fit of the components and the airflow that gets out of the dashboard.
- CNC Automotive Prototype: Made out of the whole acrylic block by CNC and polished to be very clear and smooth. The model produced with this method of prototyping is more difficult to compare to 3D printing. Automotive CNC prototype, providing designers a pretty instant physical part to analyze and adapt.
Prototypes are fully operational and provable under actual user circumstances, indicating required design changes due to user needs. Using CNC throughout prototyping increases excessive reliance and the quality of the end manufactured product. Furthermore, it accelerates its approval for use in new applications outside standard prototyping.
Utilization Of Soft Tooling In The Automotive Sector
When customers demand small-volume production, say from 10 to 50 parts, CNC machining isn’t a good choice. If you run small-volume, soft tooling is the right choice. It’s usually done by silicone molding because it’s more efficient that way. It uses a type of silicone elastomer consisting of a two-component structure.
The silicone is cast around a 3D printing original model or rapid prototype machining artificial model creating a quotable mold. Silicone molding is a coping method implemented for the production of small batches of practical plastic parts. Using two-component polymers and silicone casts, it’s well-known for its quick production of top-quality prototypes and end-user products.
As you can tell from the above-given methods, rapid prototyping has a wide range of implementations in the automotive sector. Thanks to its cost-efficiency and the other positive effects. Without a doubt, car manufacturers today gain a lot by employing rapid prototyping techniques as a part of their production process.