3D printing is not entirely an appropriate technology for producing end parts in spite of the fact that it is being used in the auto industry with the objective of prototyping. But, this does not imply that producers are not looking into the any probabilities. For example, a Japanese auto manufacturer Daihatsu considers 3D printing an ideal technique to manufacture custom parts for the Copen Robe Roadster.
A convertible roadster will entice those who are likely to be fascinated by a gaudy, sporty ride, especially those who are interested in customizing their cars with spoilers, decals and other secondary auto accessories. Daihatsu also introduced built-in customization in the form of 3D-printed “Effect Skins” during the scheming of Copen Robe Roadster in order to attract the market.
Attached to the exterior of the car for additional persona, Daihatsu Effect Skins are textural features devised in more than 10 distinct colors and 12 different patterns. Furthermore, customers can also have these skins attached to their roasters’ body along with the selection of the car’s paint and interior material.
These skins are 3D printed by employing the Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) platform from ASA thermoplastic. The reason for selecting ASA was its mechanical strength. However, when exposed to sunlight, ASA puts a stop to color fading due to its UV stability.
Daihatsu is not only capable of producing custom parts on the fly, but also 3D modeling artist Junjie Sun and designer Kota Nezu, artists selected to supervise the Daihatsu Effect Skin models, prototyped their designs with a small processing time by putting their faith in 3D printing technology. Nezu, of Znug Design, explained, “This project would not have been possible with traditional manufacturing or tooling methods.”
The general manager of the Corporate Planning Department at the Brand DNA Office for Daihatsu, Osamu Fujishita, said, “What would have taken two to three months to develop can now be produced in two weeks.”
At present time, Daihatsu is examining the Effect Skin project in various selected markets and aims on making it marketable in 2017. With custom 3D-printing features, Copen Robe Roadsters is not the only car that will be onto roads in 2017 as the Local Motors will also be launching 3D-printed vehicles next year. For the time being, these projects signify the 3D printing usage to manufacture automotive end parts. On the other hand, they might only be primitive signs of a future with 3D-printed cars everywhere in the long run.