April 22, 2014

3D printing is not replacing assembly line yet, but technology is flexible and durable enough for manufacturing 3D printed car parts.

Solid Concepts, acquired by Stratasys, has recently provided 3D printed and cast urethane prototype and pre-production components for Equus' Automotive's BASS770, a luxury American muscle car.

Instead of an assembly line mass produced version of those cars, Equus offers a hand-crafted automobile with the fine carbon fiber and aluminium frame, a V8 engine engineered for maximum power and efficiency and a hand-tooled leather interior.

After re-locating to Michigan in 2011, Equus Automotive teamed up with Solid Concepts to use 3D printing in the manufacturing of the prototype/pre-production BASS770. The 3D printing processes such as Stereolithography (SLA), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) were used to build multiple interior and exterior components.

Components Solid Concepts 3D printed included the grille, which was manufactured using FDM, an extrusion 3D Printing process. The grille was used for form, fit and aesthetic checks on the BASS770 model car.

In a SLS process, a bed of powdered nylon is melted by a CO2 laser layer by layer in computer determined patterns. SLS pieces were chromed and used throughout the car, including as levers for seat adjustment.

The majority of the 3D printed components were used as master patterns for casting. Cast urethanes are an economical alternative to injection molding which begins with a 3D Printed or CNC'd master pattern. Using Solid Concepts' QuantumCast technology the parts are then treated to post-processing to achieve the desired surface finish. Then a silicone mold is formed around the master pattern. The mold is then cast with advanced polymer urethanes, revealing strong pre-production parts. Many of the cast urethanes were leather wrapped and used in the interior of the pre-production model.

Other 3D printed and cast urethane components included the instrument panel, headlight and taillight bezels, HVAC ducting, glass trim panel fender, console covers, seat belt covers and under hood components. The use of 3D printing on the BASS770 exemplifies the technology's readiness for functional showcase models, its durability and its adaptability to any application regardless of how complex and its viability in automotive industry.

Solid Concepts ventured to Detroit to see Equus Automotive make use of FDM 3D printing and cast urethane technology on their new BASS 770. Check out the video below:

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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