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Rapid prototyping accelerates vehicle development at GM

July 29/2011

(Plastics Today) -- Rapid prototyping is increasingly helping General Motors accelerate the creative process and reduce the time and money spent on clay modeling and molding of expensive prototype parts for aerodynamic, test track, and on-road evaluations, effectively doubling testing capacity for the OEM over the last two years.

GM says its use of selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA) have allowed its designers to quickly and inexpensively go from computer models to one-off parts for wind-tunnel testing, for example, so more iterations can be tested in less time. In this case, aerodynamics engineers can put a current production vehicle into the wind-tunnel and quickly swap out RP bumper covers, grilles, spoilers, and mirrors between test runs.

GM points out that in the past, modelers would carve a rough approximation of the front structure and the engine from foam or wood to evaluate the air flow through the engine bay, while today, GM's 3D prototyping lab can generate a fully detailed model including the engine, transmission, brake lines, drive-shafts, exhaust system, suspension, and other components under the car.

Tags:IM, car components.
Category:General News
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