In the automotive manufacturing industry, 3D printing technologies are drastically impacting prototyping processes and turnaround times. However, benefiting from additive technologies isn’t quite as simple as installing printers into a workflow. As Hyundai Motor Company recently demonstrated, in order to fully exploit the advantages of 3D printing—including increased automation and production efficiency—it required software tools offered by AM giant Materialise.
South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai says it has significantly improved its rapid prototyping since combining its additive hardware with a range of Materialise software programs, including the Streamics production management system, and Materialise e-Stage for automatic support generation. These software tools have enabled Hyundai to overhaul the time and labour that previously went into producing automotive prototypes.
Prior to implementing Materialise’s software, Hyundai relied on manually updated Excel documents to keep track of different build jobs and production statuses. Additionally, the company also needed machine operators to manually manage and oversee the production plans for every machine as well as communicate any changes in plans. This, needless to say, was time and labour-consuming.
By installing Materialise Streamics, a production management system developed to streamline manufacturing information, Hyundai was suddenly able to simplify its production process with the tools to maintain real-time information about orders, machines and parts all in one place. The car manufacturer says it has also used Streamics to generate customized reports detailing the status of production, sales, management and quality. Finally, the software has also made it easier to keep track of and adapt to changes in the production schedule.
Hyundai now operates a rapid prototyping workflow that is centralized and that makes it easier for everyone on the production team to monitor 3D printers and builds. In terms of numbers, Hyundai managed to reduce its RP management man hours by a whopping 77% by installing Streamics, resulting in a better overall process for meeting its clients orders.
With Materialise e-Stage, a software dedicated to automatic stereolithography support generation, Hyundai was able to improve its rapid prototyping production even more. By switching to the automatic support generation (and in doing away with time-consuming manual support design), Hyundai has seen 13% less material waste, a 94% reduction in data preparation time and a 30% reduction in build and post-processing times.
“Materialise’s automation software enabled us to produce prototypes and manage production more efficiently,” said On, Han Woo, Senior Research Engineer, Proto vehicle development team at Hyundai Motors. “We could reduce the manual work of logging in production data and generating support structures, leading to a remarkable reduction of time. The efficient and optimized support generation with Materialise e-Stage also led to lower material consumption, better part quality and faster support removal. This means we can spend more time on creating an added value for our customers.”
The Hyundai Motor Company case study is yet another example of how digital manufacturing technologies—including software and hardware—are becoming critical for establishing optimal production processes. Recently, Hyundai Mobis, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group, invested $2.8 million into a 3D printing and design workshop for automotive parts—the first of its kind in South Korea.