An extremely important aspect of automotive prototyping is keeping up with the pace. The manufacturing of parts and prototypes need to keep up with the challenging time constraints of today’s competitive industry. Whether it is via 3D printing, CNC machining, injection molding, or any other technique, custom parts play a vital role in breeding life into conceptual designs. The competitive nature of the automotive industry requires prompt responses to changes in consumer demands which is achievable by prototyping. We will discuss in greater detail as this article progresses that how prototyping and, manufacturability of custom parts help companies achieve greater heights.
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The Importance of Cost of Development
A company relies on two aspects for its progression i.e. technical and business. Manufacturing of custom parts helps a company realize all costs prematurely for an eventual benefit from a business perspective as well as technically analyze the performance of concepts before putting up any stakes. This is the reason that additive manufacturing has taken a huge leap in this industry and is constantly proving to be a game-changer. Let us see a graph that provides an insight into the unprecedented progress.
As evident from this graph, the steep rise in the market value of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry is phenomenal. Projected growth till 2028 is at an overwhelming value of 12,614 million USD. The consolidation of additive manufacturing techniques in the automotive sector is expanding in every segment (as shown in the graph). From polymers and metals prototyping to production of final custom parts, additive manufacturing is bringing the game to a whole new level.
The forecasted growth for the next 10 years is about 1145% which is humongous. Let us next discuss the optimal prototyping techniques for various types of custom parts.
The Right Fit in Prototyping
Should I go for CNC machining, 3D printing, Urethane vacuum casting, or low volume injection molding?
As a decision-maker or market player in the automotive industry, this question often pops up. Let us help you answer this question in a comprehensive way using our experience in the prototyping industry. Check out our projects to get inspired here.
Level of Intricacy
The level of complexity is the most important aspect that comes on top of decision-making for custom parts production.
Is the part in consideration built of geometries that will not be machinable? Does the part require post-processing after machining?
Questions like these and similar are in consideration. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, parts with a low level of complexity, made from basic shapes and where faster cycle time per part is needed, CNC machining is the way to go forward. For complex shapes which would take multiple machining operations and post-processing techniques, you should weigh in the possibility of using Fused Deposition Modeling or Selective Laser Sintering or Stereolithography. You can read more about this topic in greater detail in our article here.
Learn more about our CNC machining capabilities here.
Material in Consideration
The material of custom parts in their prototype and final form matters. Two questions are in consideration: Is the use of the same material as the final deliverable necessary for the prototype? Does the production of the prototype require the use of the same production technique as the final deliverable?
For a yes to both these questions, techniques like low volume injection molding are a major consideration. Low volume injection molding uses a custom-built mold that is capable of mass production of thousands of parts. Preparing the mold requires extensive work. Designing the mold, cutting, surfacing, and polishing are some of the processes involved. You might think: why is low volume injection molding even in consideration in the prototyping industry where mass production is not conventional?
This is to fulfill the requirements of validation for custom parts e.g. production run parameters, melting temperatures, design defects, and cooling techniques. All this eventually helps prevent unforeseeable delays and reworks during the production phase.
If the material into consideration is plastic or resin and the method of the final production is plastic injection molding, urethane vacuum casting is a good choice for prototyping. It allows for the production of prototype parts in low volume production with a reasonable surface finish.
Customized Parts for Tooling
The art of providing custom part solutions is not only about manufacturing technology but also supplying customized tooling capabilities. The use of additive manufacturing and prototyping for tooling solutions in automotive, aerospace, defense, and other industries is increasing.
The market value of tooling produced by additive manufacturing and the final parts produced by customized tooling amounted a whopping 1.2 billion USD in 2012!
Customized tooling provides four main benefits:
- Cost reduction in large batch production
- Considerable improvement in industrial functionality
- Gives designers the flexibility and ability to design novel custom parts with less manufacturing constraints
- Reduction in lead-time
To further validate the importance of custom parts for tooling, let us discuss a pivotal example in the automotive industry. BMW deeply indulges in the production of custom parts to meet cost and time targets. The result is that there is a reduction of 58% in costs and 92% reduction in time spent on the production of parts.
Compression Springs: A Case Study for Custom Parts
The use of compression springs dates to almost 600 years. One of their first and foremost use was indoor locks to ensure that a system of locking and unlocking with a unique key is possible. The first spring-powered clock quickly followed this.
Taking a specific application is always advantageous to understand how custom parts can take your business to new heights. The applications of this component are quite diverse in the making of a vehicle.
The use of compression springs is to keep two components apart by the principle of absorption of energy. Following are three major applications:
- Exhaust valves: The role of compression springs in exhaust valves is for the seamless and smooth opening and closing of exhaust valves at fixed and regular intervals. This part is so vital that in the case of a malfunction, misfiring and power loss in engine performance accompanied by physical damage to the engine’s internal structure is possible. New engine designs demand new customized compression springs and credible prototyping services can help you with that by supplying custom parts to effectively test new engine prototypes before putting your stakes on it.
- Automotive seating: The use of compression springs to increase the comfort of vehicle users is common. Automotive seating technology incorporates compression springs to withstand the weight of the driver or passenger along with accommodation of the bumpiness during drives. It absorbs the energy and lets the vehicle user experience maximum comfort. New seat technologies and concepts need customized compression springs to breed innovation in the comfort of upcoming models.
- Suspension system: This is perhaps the most important application of compression springs in the automotive industry. They act as a barrage between the bumpiness of roads and structural integrity of the vehicle by absorption of all excess energy when needed and releasing it when required. In addition to hydraulic systems, the design of compression springs has been a focal point recently.
Therefore, the importance of compression springs in a vehicle’s performance is monumental. Performance, lifespan, and reliability, all rely on the quality and design of new and customized compression springs.
The Importance of Quality Prototyping Services
For utmost customer satisfaction, it is vital for auto manufacturers to seek quality prototyping services to test, prototype, and manufacture custom parts that are high in quality, long-lasting, and strong to withstand diverse conditions without malfunctioning. The reliability and success of a novel design depend on the production techniques, testing, and quality of the custom parts. Therefore, no shortcuts should be made in this regard to ensure high-profit margins and utmost customer satisfaction.