Additively manufactured CoroMill 390 tools from Sandvik and a revolutionary production model are helping Local Motors fulfill its vision of on-demand, 3D printed autonomous EVs for a cleaner and more sustainable future.
Smart, electric vehicles are increasingly emerging as the future of transportation. It makes sense that they would also be produced leveraging smart and advanced manufacturing processes such as massive 3D printers operated by a small team of workers in a “microfactory”, a facility no larger than the nearest big box store. What’s more, these futuristic vehicles are often customized to the specific needs of the people or companies buying them.
This is exactly the vision the Local Motors first proposed in 2014, when it launched the first functional largely 3D printed car, and further evolved into the Olli, 3D printed driverless shuttle, introduced in 2018.
It’s clear that innovation and partnerships are basic tenets of Local Motors, so no one was surprised when Tim Novikov, one of the company’s advanced manufacturing engineers, reached out to another industry pioneer, Sandvik Coromant, for help with machining a few troublesome features on Olli’s 3D printed chassis.
The tooling provider’s sales engineer, Matt Brazelton, recommended a solution that was also made with additive manufacturing. The combination of complex component features with deep cavities in demanding materials is a typical milling challenge. The long overhangs that these applications require often cause a bottleneck due to vibration problems and related performance issues.
Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, a new division established within Sandvik in 2017, has looked into new ways to tackle this challenge. The result, offered by Sandvik Coromant, is the new lightweight CoroMill 390 milling cutter combined with dampened Silent Tools holders.
The main goal was to decrease the weight of the cutter to improve the performance at long overhangs. Several alternatives were available, such as using a lighter material or machining holes in the tool body, but additive manufacturing turned out to offer the optimal solution in this case.
The lightweight CoroMill 390 milling cutter is the world’s first additively manufactured indexable milling cutter, and it proved to be a huge success for Local Motors. By mounting the ultra-lightweight cutter on one of Sandvik Coromant’s Silent Tool boring bars equipped with a Coromant Capto quick-change spindle interface, the two were able to reduce the Olli’s machining time by an incredible 95 percent.