Skorpion Engineering—an Italy-based rapid prototyping and manufacturing service bureau—is using 3D printers from Stratasys to produce automotive prototypes 50 percent faster than previously achievable using the traditional clay modelling process.
At the company’s offices in Milan and Turin, three fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers and three PolyJet printers have been deployed for a range of automotive exterior and interior parts, from door handles to full-size seat frames. The FDM printers have made it possible to meet customers’ requirements in under 24 hours or the next day, and the PolyJet printers have allowed for the realization of greater part complexity and precision.
According to Skorpion Engineering, it has experienced a surge in business since transitioning from ‘rudimentary clay models to high-performance thermoplastic prototypes' and being able to meet tighter deadlines.
A case in point is its recent creation of a full-size car bumper. The company opted to use Stratasys's most powerful FDM printer, the Fortus 900mc, on account of it affording a large build area (914.4 x 609.6 x 914.4 mm) and produced the bumper 50 percent faster than had been achievable using the clay modelling process.
As well as saving a considerable amount of time, FDM and—more specifically—FDM materials allow for the creation of prototypes that are significantly lighter than clay models yet robust, affording improved aerodynamics as well as the same mechanical characteristics as the final part. This, in turn, means that customers are able to achieve aesthetic and functionality verification more quickly and accelerate their overall production cycles.
Skorpion Engineering relies on its PolyJet printers to produce more customized prototypes that demand higher levels of complexity and precision. The company recently used the Objet350 Connex3 printer to produce a highly accurate vehicle dashboard combining rigid and soft materials in a single print.
This ability to combine contrasting material types means that Skorpion Engineering can further optimize parts and make customers aware of engineering challenges early on in the design phase, thus saving time and money.
Again, the company managed to produce the dashboard 50 percent faster than had the clay modelling process been employed.
Italo Moriggi, general manager at Skorpion Engineering, commented: ‘In the context of the end-to-end manufacturing workflow, the level of time-saving enjoyed with 3D printing isn’t merely improvement or progression, it’s transformational [...] As we continue to push the prototyping capabilities of our 3D printers, we are discovering the wider manufacturing potential they possess. In fact, our goal is to utilize additive manufacturing to realize the production of a fully-functional concept car within the next five years.’
Zehavit Reisin, vice president (VP), Materials Business Unit, at Stratasys, added: ‘Skorpion Engineering is the perfect example of how a number of future-ready companies are not merely exploring the use of our complete 3D printing solutions to solve traditional prototyping challenges but are discovering the unparalleled capabilities for the manufacture of final parts.’