Concept Laser has worked with EDAG Engineering, Laser Zentrum Nord and the BLM Group to produce an additively manufactured NextGen spaceframe that demonstrates a new way of designing vehicles. The bodywork is highly adaptable to cope with different vehicles thanks to the large number of different drives and load stages.
It uses bodywork nodes that are 3D-printed so that, for example, different versions of a vehicle can be produced “on demand” without any additional tooling, equipment and start-up costs. These nodes are linked by steel profiles that can be adapted on an individual basis to the specified load levels by using different wall thicknesses and geometries. These profiles are cut to the appropriate shape and length, first by using 3D bending and then by employing 2D and 3D laser cutting processes.
The idea behind the NextGen spaceframe is that by joining together individual components to create a hybrid structure it is possible to produce topologically optimized structures that are not yet possible at present. The parts are laser-welded together with a fillet weld on the lap joint, which is additively manufactured through 3D measuring of the profiles. The result is a strong frame that is considerably lighter as well as being cheaper and faster to manufacture than a conventional process as there’s no need for additional tooling.
The project was coordinated by EDAG Engineering, which devised and optimized the spaceframe concept, while Laser Zentrum Nord did the laser welding, the BLM Group undertook the 3D bending and laser cutting and Concept Laser was responsible for the additive manufacturing of the nodes. These were manufactured on an X line 1000R machine using a LaserCusing process that generates complex components in layers directly from 3D CAD data.
Edag used this process to create its Light Cocoon compact sports car, which was shown at both the Geneva Motor Show and the International Motor Show last year. The structure was additively manufactured with an outer skin made from weatherproof textile material. As such it demonstrates that additive manufacturing is both technically possible for this concept and sustainable.