EP-M250 3D printer and OptimScan 5M scanner dramatically shorten automotive part development cycle

New exhaust pipe goes from design to production in one week

SHINING 3D has been working in close contact with automotive companies and motorsports teams for years to help them adopt additive manufacturing and increase productivity while reducing costs. In a recent case, SHINING 3D helped an automotive company design, produce and test a new exhaust pipe through a new phase of product development. The metal powder bed fusion (MPBF) technology from SHINING 3D, with the EP-M250 3D printer, and the high-precision OptimScan 5 blue-light 3D scanning and inspection technology were used during the process.

In traditional automotive manufacturing, it can take as long as 3 years to go from a new design to the final manufacturing of the first car from the factory. This latest case proves how additive manufacturing technologies can be extremely beneficial, not just to shorten the design and production cycle, but also for producing more complex and efficient parts. In recent years, several of the largest and best known automotive companies, including BMW, Audi and Volkswagen to name just a few, have set up additive manufacturing centers to integrate these new technologies into their manufacturing workflows.

From 3D printing to 3D inspection

In this application case, all manufacturing of the part was carried out with the EP-M250 metal 3D printer from SHINING 3D instead of costly, part-specific tooling. Doing away with tools significantly shortened the production time while also guaranteeing high quality and reliability of the part. After manually removing supports and sandblasting, the 3D printed exhaust pipe was ready for testing and adjusting.

3D printing the part eliminates the need for tools
Some manual post-processing is still required.
The part is 3D scanned for inspection in just a few seconds
Then imported into Geomagic to confirm dimensional accuracy.

The OptimScan-5M blue-light metrology 3D scanner was subsequently used to obtain the part’s 3D data, in a matter of just a few seconds, with accuracy up to 5µm. This level of precision fully met the requirements of industrial 3D inspection. In order to generate the analysis report, the engineers imported the 3D scan data and original CAD design model into Geomagic Control X. This intuitive report software tool allows the user to identify issues and make adjustments faster, thus offering better assistance to the decision-making process and improving efficiency.

The development of a new exhaust pipe, from design to production of a functional test part, can take up to three weeks. SHINING 3D cut this down to just one week.

Meeting demand for mass customization

In the end, the additive manufacturing and 3D inspection approach decreased the required time period to go from design to part installation to just one week, significantly reducing production time, risks and costs. But that’s only part of the story. Additional benefits of using innovative and finally accessible metal AM technologies include the creation of new, lightweight designs with more geometric freedom, thus also meeting the increasing demand for customization in the automotive industry.

There is no doubt that additive manufacturing will play an increasingly relevant role in the future of the automotive industry. SHINING 3D just launched a new metal 3D printer EP-M250 Pro at Formnext 2019, and the company intends to continue to support this evolution by developing technologies for direct printing, batch production of customized parts, and larger parts manufacturing in a wider range of applications.

This article was created in partnership with SHINING 3D

Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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