Spanish automotive company SEAT has transformed its prototyping operations with the launch of an upgraded Prototype Development Center (PDC) in Martorell. The additional PDC facility, which spans 3,000 square meters, unifies the automaker’s pre-production operations into a single location. Central to the new location’s operations is a new, cutting-edge 3D Printing Lab.
The opening demonstrates SEAT’s increased commitment to 3D printing, a technology with which it has worked for over a decade. Today, the company has at least nine 3D printers in operation, including Multi Jet Fusion, laser sintering, fused filament fabrication and UV curing systems. The company says it is printing an average of 50 parts per day, including vehicle development prototypes, custom tools and assembly line equipment, custom logos and more.
The site also houses new machining facilities with virtual reality applications as well as a Design for Manufacturing room, where various SEAT departments can work together with the PDC team to analyze and improve products at the concept stage. By encouraging this degree of collaboration within the company, SEAT hopes to improve the time-to-market for new car models and to boost efficiency. 3D printing and VR will also help the company to meet these goals.
“The transformation of our Prototype Development Centre enables us to work with total efficiency in the development and launch of new models” explained Anabel Andión, Head of SEAT’s PDC. “We’ve been working with virtual reality and 3D printing for more than thirteen years. With these new facilities and the unification of the PDC, we intend to invest more than ever in the development of digital and electronic solutions adapted to the car of tomorrow.”
The original PDC was launched in 2007 and had a highly productive run. Over the course of 13 years, SEAT’s R&D and production departments leveraged VR and other technologies to come up with 13 concept cars, including the IBE (2010), the Cupster (2014) and the CUPRA Ateca (2018). The prototyping center has also worked on over 5,000 pre-series models, 2,472 test prototypes and 224 technical models.
The recent upgrade to the SEAT PDC was undertaken as part of a 5 billion euro investment plan by the company. With the updated facility and 3D Printing Lab, the PDC now spans over 18,000 square meters in Martorell and employs 250 engineers and specialized technicians. By placing an increased focus on cutting edge technologies like additive manufacturing and virtual reality, SEAT is advancing towards its goal of operating an Industry 4.0 Smart Factory.