There she is. Isn’t she a beauty? This is definitely the new-generation car model that will take the world by storm. Go ahead, take a walk around her and admire the craftsmanship of the bodywork. Hop in and get a feel for the interior comfort and easy-to-use center stack layout. Test the headlights and run your hand over the smooth upholstery. Take in the scenes of busy city life streaming past the panoramic windshield and windows. Now remove your virtual reality headset and meet the engineers and designers that made all of this possible.
New 3D-Technologies and designing approaches
Car manufacturers today have their work cut out for them, having to comply with stricter environmental regulations, while satisfying their customers’ growing demand for great looking, connected, smart and autonomous vehicles that deliver the power they want. Designers and engineers also have to find ways to lighten their vehicles (download our free ebook to learn more about making car lighter in weight), reduce emissions and generate lower fuel consumption, while giving drivers and passengers the pleasurable driving experience they dream of. With technology developing at lightning speed, designers are constantly being asked for better cars at lower prices. And, of course, they also have to streamline the production process. As a result, new design approaches are being implemented to overcome time constraints, including virtual reality labs, like the one you’ve just experienced.
Carmakers are also upgrading 3D computer-aided modeling technology to produce 3D (or additive) printing, so that they can actually produce prototypes of real parts straight out of the computer, increasing agility and flexibility and shortening the development cycle. Tests can now also be run in a virtual environment to accelerate design, testing and approval cycles.
Below, we provide a few tips on how 3D-CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and CAE (Computer-Aided Engineering) can be used to streamline the design and development process.
Five ways to streamline the design and development process
1. Implement the “design from-scratch” principle more widely. This approach takes into account what the customer needs and expects from the product and/or service, from the very start of the design process. With good PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software, integrating all available data, processes and systems throughout the entire lifetime of a product, designers can easily and quickly rethink and reinvent the characteristics of a component and create a consistent manufacturing and business strategy to optimize products.
2. Integrate CAD and CAE to align the design and testing cycles. With CAD/CAE technology and 3D prototypes, engineers can quickly and accurately test a wide range of specifications, without resorting to invasive assays or actual crash tests, thus saving time and money in a more environmentally friendly approach
3. Use modeling software with ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) and PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) functionalities to reduce complexity, optimize efficiency and manage costs of developing embedded software. Use an agile rather than a linear or cascading approach, enabling software developers and designers to be involved upstream in development, but also downstream in the deployment and maintenance phases.
4. Create a link between engineering and manufacturing systems to facilitate execution and changes . Share information between different teams, via CAD/CAE technology to streamline development processes, reducing time-to-market.
5. Integrate quality control systems and analysis tools to detect possible discrepancies between expectations and final results. With accurate real-time data, problems can be spotted early on, thus preventing defects and nonconformities upstream and avoiding recalls further on down the line. An integrated quality control and analysis system provides clear visibility on quality issues across the board and saves time and resources.
Silicones and the creation of prototypes
Once the design process has been streamlined, the next step is to improve prototyping with the use of silicones, widely used as the material of choice in precision molding and in 3D printing. Many leading-edge industries, from automotive to aerospace, via electronics and appliance makers, use silicones as their raw material for rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing pre-series or small test runs. This is because silicones feature essential properties, including:
- Excellent transparency to accurately monitor the part in the mold
- Exceptional mechanical properties, including flexibility, elasticity and tear resistance
- High resistance to extreme temperatures and chemical corrosion potentially caused by artificial resins (PU, Epoxy, PES, etc.)
- Accurate reproduction of details and easy mold release
- No shrinkage when cured, either at room temperature or when heated.
Read more on 3D printing for the automotive industry to get an insight on how silicones facilitate prototyping: