The automotive development cycle is about speed and accuracy. During the prototyping cycle, engineers must choose between the high geometric accuracy of low-level tooling, the near production prototype of high-level tooling, or the speed of 3D printing. Lead times are 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and less than 1 week respectively. When working with low level tooling or 3D printing, it is expected that the engineers will not be working with materials with a high correlation to the production material. While 3D printing and low- level tooling have fast lead times, they cannot replicate mass production material properties in scenarios where testing requires it.
As more applications for FFF 3D printing are developed, the long list of injection molding materials used for the automotive market are becoming more widely available for prototyping use. This case study explains the manufacture of numerous prototype automotive parts with mass production materials. These materials include under-hood and underbody components made out of glass fiber reinforced Nylon 6 and Polypropylene (GF30-PA6 and GF30-PP). These components are used during the prototype development phase to validate chemical resistance, impact resistance during environmental testing, and on road durability performance.
3D printed parts made using mass production materials in FFF are allowing for 80% correlation between prototype and mass production. This also allows manufacturers to utilize the less than 1-week lead time that FFF 3D printing can offer. The combination reduces lead times, cost, and risk.
- Demonstrate an understanding of automotive applications for FFF 3D printing using mass-production materials for vehicle development.
- Understand the requirements of the fast-paced automotive development cycle.
- Describe the difference between commonly used 3D printing materials and application-specific 3D printing materials.