Materialise > Case Studies > Revamping Automotive Tool Design with Additive Manufacturing

Revamping Automotive Tool Design with Additive Manufacturing

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 Revamping Automotive Tool Design with Additive Manufacturing - IoT ONE Case Study
Technology Category
  • Sensors - Autonomous Driving Sensors
Applicable Industries
  • Automotive
  • Equipment & Machinery
Applicable Functions
  • Product Research & Development
  • Sales & Marketing
Use Cases
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Rapid Prototyping
The Customer

Metal Competence Center

About The Customer
The customer in this case study is the automotive industry, specifically the manufacturers involved in the production of car interiors. These manufacturers use a process known as drape forming to adhere materials to car interiors. The process involves the use of a metal tool that contains heating and cooling channels to glue a material, such as leather, onto an area within a car’s interior, such as a door panel. The manufacturers are seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of this process, reduce waste, and meet the strict quality standards required for the industry.
The Challenge
The automotive industry has been facing challenges with the traditional drape forming process, a method used to adhere materials to car interiors. The conventional process uses a metal tool with heating and cooling channels to glue materials like leather onto car interiors. However, the tool, made by milling solid metal blocks, only allows for straight-line drilling of channels, limiting design possibilities. This limitation often leads to long cycle times and inconsistent heating and spreading of the glue, resulting in time and material wastage when the outcome doesn't meet the strict quality standards of the industry. The challenge was to eliminate these issues caused by using conventionally manufactured tools.
The Solution
The solution was to redesign the tool using additive manufacturing (AM). The Design & Engineering team at Materialise recognized the potential of AM to enhance the tool while still using aluminum to meet temperature and pressure restrictions. The team didn't just aim to improve the original design but also to innovate and optimize the tool beyond its intended purpose. The team's deep understanding of the application and how to design for 3D printing, combined with the expertise of the Metal Competence Center in AM software, production, and design, allowed them to fully rethink the part using AM. The redesigned part was lighter, cheaper, and more performant, with the flexibility of AM enabling the combination of two components into one and reducing the part's mass by 51%.
Operational Impact
  • The operational results of the redesign were significant. The flexibility in design allowed the team to combine two components into one, making the part lighter and easier for the operator to handle. This also reduced the cost of production. The team was able to design more organic shapes for the channels, minimizing the amount of material needed. The optimized channels were designed closer to the surface, ensuring homogenous and quick heating and cooling. This improved flow played a crucial role in reducing scrap, addressing a major drawback of the initial design. The redesign of the lamination tool demonstrated the many opportunities additive manufacturing offers, especially in production tooling.
Quantitative Benefit
  • The redesigned part reduced the part's mass by 51%
  • The new design eliminated the need for support structures, reducing material costs
  • The optimized channels improved heating and cooling efficiency, reducing scrap

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