Transforming automotive prototype production
To improve the quality of bespoke, low-volume parts for the motoring industry, UK provider of Stratasys, One-Click Metal and XJet 3D printing solutions, Tri-Tech 3D, recently supplied innovative engineering solutions provider, HPL, with a large-format stereolithography (SL) additive manufacturing (AM) system that can produce high-quality prototype parts with low variability.
The company, who previously outsourced its AM part production, can now use its Stratasys NEO800 SL system to shorten lead times while improving part finish and reliability.
Based in Coventry, HPL is an engineering company that specialises in manufacturing bespoke show cars and for the motor industry. Its clients include Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover, and McLaren, with the company producing prototypes and concepts as well as various aesthetics before they enter full-scale production. Previously, the company was outsourcing its AM, using a third party to produce panelling, switch packs, headlight and screen bezels, and other vehicle components. However, outsourcing introduced added costs and possible delays.
Tri-Tech 3D supplied HPL with the Stratasys NEO800 SL system, which is designed to produce large parts with high accuracy and quality. It has a large build area of 800 x 800 x 600mm, and a 2-Watt variable beam laser with dynamic and variable beam size options. It combines a high laser power with advanced control to increase print speed and throughput and deliver highly accurate parts with superior surface quality. It is also an open-resin system and compatible with all 355nm SL resins, allowing freedom of material selection.
“Following the stereolithography boom in the 1990s, automotive firms began to use SL 3D printing to compliment traditional clay modelling to achieve highly accurate and detailed prototypes,” explained Joe Godfrey, 3D Print Specialist at Tri-Tech 3D. “Though it has a large manufacturing capability and team, HPL previously relied on a third-party bureau to deliver critical automotive parts in the AM area, which was difficult when there were tight deadlines to meet.
“By bringing the Stratasys NEO800 on board, the company can now build high-quality, reliable prototypes, large scale parts, and general bodywork, from the comfort of its own facility,” continued Godfrey. “It can also keep its product IP in-house and manage its workflow more closely.”
“So far, we’ve mainly been using the NEO800 for automotive prototypes, tooling, and concept parts, but we’ve also increasingly moved into the aero, military, and entertainment sectors,” explained Tom Spicer, Sales Manager at HPL. “We’ve been using 3D printed parts to produce plane seat parts, and we’re now even quoting on a full-sized engine. The installation was very smooth, and we really appreciate the ongoing support we’ve had from Joe and the Tri-Tech 3D team.”
Following the rise of AM, automotive and transport manufacturers are now using this technology for various applications, including composite tooling, greasing jigs, rapid and functional prototyping and jigs, and fixtures.
To find out more about the Stratasys NEO800 and stereolithography 3D printing technology, visit the Tri-Tech 3D website.