During this month’s AM Focus Automotive, we mapped the most accurate and up to date scenario for automotive additive manufacturing in final part production. We presented an analysis of the latest progress made by each major automaker group and some of the key activities—either publicly disclosed or confirmed by reliable sources. In the previous seven episodes of this series, we looked at Volkswagen, General Motors, Daimler Benz, Ford, BMW, PSA, and FCA. In this final episode, we will present a look at Jaguar Land Rover additive manufacturing, which will lead to our exclusive interview with Jaguar Land Rover’s Christopher Noble, Additive Manufacturing Strategic Engineer, that you will find in 3dpbm’s upcoming downloadable eBook on Automotive AM.
The Jaguar Land Rover Group was formed when India’s Tata Motors bought out Jaguar and Land Rover (Jaguar Land Rover) in 2008. Since then it has become a global success story with products in demand around the globe.
Most of Jaguar Land Rover’s AM activities take place at the new Additive Manufacturing Centre, which is located within the Jaguar Land Rover Gaydon Centre, in Warwickshire, England. Measuring 4,000,000m², this is one of Jaguar Land Rover’s principal engineering centers. It houses a design, research and development center, extensive test track facilities and is used for the design and development of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. Gaydon’s new offices are rated in the top 10 percent of most sustainable non-domestic buildings in the UK.
This focus on sustainability is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero mission, which also looks at AM as a way to optimize both production processes and parts. From the development of 3D printed ergonomic gloves and sensory steering wheels to upcycling domestic waste to create high-quality materials for its vehicles, the Destination Zero mission is intended as a means to make societies safer, healthier and the environment cleaner.
Early AM adoption
At both Jaguar and Land Rover, 3D printing technology has been used to develop prototype parts since the early 1990s. In 1992, the Austin-Rover Group, which owned Land Rover, became an early UK adopter of additive manufacturing technology.
After investing in computer-aided design (CAD), Austin-Rover could see the potential of 3D printing – engineers loved its ability to turn their designs into physical products.
Jaguar had been watching with interest, but as a smaller company, they couldn’t invest at the same speed and scale at first. Although Jaguar invested in 3D printing three to four years after Land Rover, the team learned quickly. Jaguar’s and Land Rover’s design teams are still the keenest users of additive manufacturing, quickly creating and crafting parts to fine-tune pre-production models.
JLR additive manufacturing today
For years, both Jaguar and Land Rover had been printing 3D parts for prototype use only. Recently that has changed, with a new generation of 3D printing technologies improving quality and lowering parts costs. Jaguar Land Rover secured early access to many of these additive manufacturing technologies, including becoming the first in the UK to use HP’s multijet fusion process.
The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is one of the first vehicles to feature 3D printed parts. The exclusive super saloon features multiple parts from Jaguar Land Rover’s Additive Manufacturing Centre, including brackets and interior trim. Examples include the rear parking sensor mounts bonded to the inside of the carbon fiber bumper, and racing harness bezels fitted around the track edition seats.
The Additive Manufacturing team has also been creating small runs of obsolete parts for older cars, such as the third-row seat handle for the Land Rover Discovery Series 2. Engineering teams can test a printed component and make the changes to the design, before officially using it in production.
Jaguar Land Rover uses all major polymer AM technologies today. Vat photopolymerization was the first 3D printing technology acquired by Jaguar Land Rover over 25 years ago. It is often used by the team for building prototype parts that require a high-quality surface finish. Powder bed fusion followed soon after, and today has the highest output of any additive manufacturing technology used at Jaguar Land Rover. It allows the team to build relatively low-cost functional parts.
Around 20 years ago, material jetting (Stratasys polyjet) was introduced. Today this process allows the team to print in full color with the ability to color match, which is useful for printing head and taillight lenses, or dashboard trim. At the same time, material extrusion was chosen for its capability to print good functional prototypes. The latest machines are capable of printing large geometry components from a wide range of materials, including temperature resistant polymers and composites. More recently, both HP multijet fusion and Carbon digital light synthesis systems have been adopted. The current portfolio of materials for AM includes nylons, polyurethanes, epoxies and composites, among others.