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Additive manufacturing (AM) technology has become a top priority in the automotive industry (>>>SLA & SLS 3D Printing Process: Road to the 3D Printed Vehicle), and this technology is often used in parts development and production. Ideas can be implemented faster, saving time and money. Speed and flexibility bring a competitive advantage.
Different automotive parts and prototypes have been developed with the help of sls and sla printing services, so the maturity of the series can be achieved faster. In prototypes, fixtures, production and assembly aids, additive manufacturing technology has become the standard and the final product can be made from a variety of rugged materials. In this article, we will introduce common automotive applications and several case studies of successful implementation of AM.
Common SLA SLS 3d printing automotive applications
AM (especially SLS 3d printing) can be used to make semi-functional bellows parts, requiring some flexibility in assembly or mating. In general, it is best to consider the use of this material/process for applications where the part will experience little repetitive buckling motion. For projects that require significant bending, other polyethylene-based SLS materials (such as Duraform "Flex") are more suitable.
By using SLS 3d printing to make non-structural, small-volume pipes, such as environmental control system (ECS) pipes for aerospace and performance competitions, you can design highly optimized, very complex one-piece structures. With SLS, variable wall thicknesses can be designed and increased in the strength-to-weight ratio by applying structurally optimized surface weaves. To use traditional manufacturing techniques, this is a very expensive detail. For SLS, parts can be printed with high precision without support at the cost of any complexity.
High detail visual prototype
Unlike traditional prototyping methods, some additive manufacturing processes produce multi-color designs, and the surface finish is comparable to injection molding. These kinds of models give designers a better understanding of the shape and fit of the part. This highly accurate prototyping method is as well ideal for aerodynamic testing and analysis, as the surface finish that can be achieved is usually representative of the final part. SLS or SLA printing services are often required to make automotive parts that rely on aesthetics rather than function, producing a wide range of products from rearview mirrors and shades to steering wheels and the entire interior dashboard. Material ejection and SLA printing services are common in aesthetic prototypes to produce parts using photoactivated resins.
Functional mounting bracket
A hallmark of SLS or SLA printing services is the ability to quickly create complex, lightweight brackets overnight. Not only does these services allow the creation of organic shapes and designs, but they requires very little operator input, which means engineers can quickly move designs from the computer to the assembly in a fraction of the time. And this is obviously impossible with the traditional manufacturing technique (such as CNC machining), which require highly skilled machine operators to produce parts. Powder bed fusion technology such as SLS nylon and metal printing is best suited for functional components and is available in a variety of materials (from PA12 nylon to titanium).
Case Study 1 - German Student Equation
Formula Student is an international student design competition initiated by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the United States in 1981 and has been conducted in Europe began from 1998. The fierce international competition takes place on the American circuit in Europe, and in Asia, each team decides which competition to participate in.
As part of the car's optimization, the German Student Formula Racing set out to design and manufacture reliable, lightweight axle pivots (knuckle joints) with high rigidity in the shortest possible time. The knuckle required to withstand the dynamic loads of the car and also reduce the car’s overall weight. The final design is a single component with complex terrain and can only be manufactured using sls 3d printing or sla 3d printing technology. For this application, DLMS is best suited because it can produce functional metal parts with complex geometries.
By optimizing the knuckle geometry, the final design is 35 persent lighter than the original one and 20% more rigid. The use of AM technology also greatly reduces development and production time and increases the reliability of the track (thus improving safety).
Compared with the previous aluminum wheel carrier, the team can reduce the weight by 1.5 kg in total, which is the lightest car produced by the team so far.
Case Study 2 - Moto2 Motorcycle Racing
TransFIORmers, the winning Moto2 team, used art-of-the-state sla and sls 3d printing (metal 3D printing) technology in the unconventional front suspension system, which gives it a clear competitive advantage. The motorcycles on the MotoGP World Championships are very special. The public cannot buy them or use them on public roads. As prototype cars, they are tailored to outperform competitors and perform at their best on the track.
When developing new components for the Moto2 bike design, weight reduction is a top priority. In particular, reducing the "spring suspension quality" of bicycles is a key concern. The lower the mass of the unsuspended, the better the suspension is in vibration (vibration) management and responsiveness to braking and acceleration. TransFIORmers, a French Moto2 team based in southwestern France, has developed a new front suspension design taking advantage of the sls 3d printing and sla printing services.
In the highly competitive world of motorsports, it is important to modify the design speed of new components and the time required to remanufacture. Fast and accurate part iteration is critical. The weight reduction achieved by metal 3D printing in the wishbone component enables it to bypass conventional weight transfer phenomena and problems associated with brake actuation. Not only that, but it also permits the design of parts that are not only lighter but also stronger. Through the additive manufacturing method of the Moto2 bicycle design, TransFIORmers successfully reduced the weight of the key wishbone front suspension assembly by 40%. Comparing one-piece titanium parts to original welded steel parts reduces the weight of 600 grams.