Jun 20, 2016 | By Benedict

3D printing giant Stratasys has joined forces with Japanese car manufacturer Daihatsu to launch a range of patterned, 3D printed “Effect Skins” which customers can tailor to their own specifications. The skins can be ordered for front and rear bumpers and fenders of the Daihatsu Copen.

After years of developing 3D printed tools, jigs, and fixtures for customers in the automotive industry, it’s nice to see Stratasys buckling up for a slightly more glamorous auto project: flashy, 3D printed “Effect Skins”, whose sole purpose is to improve the aesthetic and contribute to the unique personality personality of a Daihatsu Copen, a two-door roadster with a 660cc turbo three-cylinder engine. Other contributors to the collaborative project, which was first announced last year, were industrial design company Znug Design and 3D creator Sun Junjie.

For many drivers, the individual personality of a car forms an important part of the driving experience. To bring out that personality, many drivers choose to customize their vehicle in various ways, making their cars stand out from others in the parking lot. Daihatsu, Japan’s oldest car manufacturer, has embraced this culture of auto customization over the years, and has brought additive manufacturing into the frame for its latest project, giving drivers a whole new degree of personalization and control.

The car manufacturer asked Stratasys to take care of the 3D printing, while 3D designer Sun Junjie was tasked with coming up with the unique designs: “What was really good with this project was that, by using Stratasys 3D printing, we were able to create not only prototypes, but the very designs I’d come up with in my own mind and produce them to a quality sufficient for final products,” said Junjie.

Daihatsu’s 15 3D printed “Effect Skins”, available in a range of geometric and organic patterns and in 10 different colors, are all being 3D printed on Stratasys Fortus 3D printers, and can each be personally tailored by the customer before printing, allowing for each driver to put their own spin on Junjie’s design. When the customer has put the finishing touches on their product, Stratasys will print the one-of-a-kind skin in ASA thermoplastic, which is durable, UV resistant, and looks the business when fitted to a car’s bumper or fender.

According to Daihatsu, the 3D printing process has enabled the company to produce the products at a much faster rate than would have been possible with any other manufacturing process: “What would have taken two to three months to develop can now be produced in two weeks,” said Osamu Fujishita, General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department at Daihatsu’s Brand DNA Office.

The 3D printed “Effect Skins” have caused quite a stir since their initial announcement last year, and it seems as though Daihatsu could be open to working with Stratasys again for future 3D printing projects: “We’re interested in expanding the market for customized plastic-bodied cars, and we see Stratasys 3D printing technology as extremely effective for this,” Fujishita said.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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