New product development and innovation is much more difficult and time consuming than most other business activities. Automotive rapid prototyping greatly enhances learning speed and reduces the risk of new automotive parts development.
Historically, the automotive industry has been using rapid prototyping as an important tool in the automotive parts design process. The extremely fast-paced automotive design cycles require an extremely fast prototyping system which can produce car parts fast and inexpensively.
The main objective of automotive prototyping is to learn quickly: how a new automotive product behaves in its natural working environment, before transferring the prototype to the production line. Many times, mistakes are learned only after a new automotive part is launched. This is the main explanation for poor automotive parts design, from product mismatch, poor engineering and function or finish, and overpriced production. In order to accelerate the learning curve, before these costly automotive prototyping mistakes are made, one must accelerate and facilitate feedback loops from tests in the lab and market trials.
Automotive Manufacturing Technologies
Working with an assortment of rapid prototyping equipment, automotive prototyping engineers utilize the most advanced 3D printers, in their quest for perfect form, function and utility. Working in advanced manufacturing centers, the automotive engineers use the technology to verify what they are doing, and, equally important, to save tremendous amounts of time, and money.
Automotive Rapid Prototyping Compresses Development Time
The advantages of 3D rapid prototyping model creation versus viewing a cad/cam model on a computer screen is palpable. Automotive parts engineers get together discuss the pros and cons of a rapidly produced automotive parts model and discuss the pros and cons of the design, as they pass it around, twisting and viewing the prototype, and decide if that is what they had in mind. This way, problems get solved up front, before going to the assembly line! Once determined that the automotive prototype design is a go, the model can then be sent to a die maker.
Automotive Prototyping and the Die Maker Process
The die maker cannot use model to make the die, but because they have it in their hand and can look at it and feel it, they can determine where the parting lines will be and exactly how much steel they will need to produce it. The timing of the die process is greatly compressed.
Examples of Automotive Rapid Prototyping Parts
· Engine castings and parts
· Car Engine parts
· Auto Mechanical parts
· Car Dashboards
· Car Handles and Knobs
· Auto Body Components
· Car Trim parts
Fail first Paradox in Automotive Rapid Prototyping
The automotive rapid prototyping paradox is to fail earlier rather than later. By failing earlier, the design engineers surprisingly succeed in accelerating the project; this greatly reduces development cost risk. By considering all automotive prototype failures as learning experiments, the engineer has much less stress, knowing that they are practicing the old adage, that success comes from ninety-nine percent failure and introspection.
Dan Flower is a writer for Objet Geometries Ltd, an automotive prototyping [http://www.2objet.com/Company/Markets/tabid/54/Default.aspx] 3D printer manufacturer.
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