3D Concepts and Automobile – What are their relationships?

The Ministry of Education Education is now focusing on STEM Education, as stipulated in the National Education Blueprint 2013-2015. With the urge and assistance from the ministry, schools are starting to get on board with 3D learning by introducing 3D software, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in their lessons. 3D learning is exciting. It captures the curious minds of students to learn and enjoy it at the same time. We had our own STEM-oriented program with SMK Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya where we taught 3D designing and 3D printing to students.

Image source: Brain Bytes FB

There are bountiful reasons for students to explore the 3D learning, here are some of its importance in automobile industry.

Many people misperceive, that 3D designing is just a fancier version of designing or drawing things in the computer. That is completely false. 3D designing is about building an object in a virtual environment, making sure it has correct dimension and the most important thing is, that it is a working prototype (PTC). Steve Jobs once said, design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.

3D design, modelling and printing is the past, present and future. Ultimately, the aim is to maximise efficiency in style. Let’s look at it in the context of the automobile industry.

The process of making a car starts way before manufacturing. The first step is to come up with the car design. After that, the manufacturer has to identify suitable raw materials required for the manufacturing. The journey of introducing a new car model into the market is long. The first step (inception) to the final step (assembly) takes 3-5 years to complete (Advameg, Inc., 2017). Imagine when designing a car, you must come up with designs that is appealing to people’s taste 3-5 years later, not today. That’s one of the challenge in automobile industry. It may seem like an easy task to some, but try to look back at the various designs that happened in the 127 years of modern automobile evolution.

This is how car companies design a car (Howmade):

Step 1: Draw/render

An idea can only be brought to life if it is executed well. In this case, the concept and idea needs to be penned down first in order for the other departments to bring it from paper concept into a reality. Thousands would submit designs to an automobile manufacturer but only one or two may reach the showroom.

Image source: Howmade

Step 2: Packaging

Modifications are made based on available resources and materials. The parts need to fit the car well for it to function smoothly.

Image source: Honda

Step 3:  Moulding

Traditionally, moulding of model is done by hand using clay models. However, computers and 3D printers are slowly entering the process to replace clay models as it’s more precise.

Car modeling using clay. Image source: Pinterest

Car modeling using 3D. Image source: Dark Scarab

Step 4:  Prototyping

The full sized final chosen design model will look like a real car and is often photographed and used as initial marketing material.

Image source: LinkedIn

The bulk of an automobile is virgin steel, petroleum-based products (plastics and vinyls). The rise of innovation also means newer options on resources and design. Recently, a student came up with an award-winning graphene battery that is far superior to the existing batteries because they are light, durable, suitable for high capacity energy storage and can charge in short time (Graphene-info).

To illustrate, graphene technology is estimated to increase Tesla’s Model S power from 85kWH to 112 kWH, cutting down charge times from 4 hours to 8 minutes as well as almost doubling its travel range from 310 to 590 miles. This sounds great, however it must also be able to fit and/or upgrade a car’s look and feel to maximise its efficiency as well as differentiate it from its current models and those available in the market (Celtic Green Energy).

Image source: Celtic Green Energy

Looking at the steps above, this means that the designer will need to go back to the drawing board.

In this context, 3D designing, modelling and printing helps:

  1. An automobile company work efficiently. Designers, engineers, modelers, marketers can work hand in hand to get a product shipped in the shortest or most efficiently possible time span.
  2. The consumer can order and acquire the latest automobile in the shortest time span possible, getting value for money.
  3. Reduce wastage. Resources are optimally allocated and used in manufacturing vehicles with the help of effective design and execution.

Toyota was the first company in the world to maximise efficiency in its production system using a system called the lean manufacturing model. Lean manufacturing’s core idea is to work on eliminating waste from manufacturing process, by providing things that can only add value to the customer’s perspective.

Image source: Braun Ability

Car manufacturing is an industry that takes up billions of dollars in production. With 3D designing and printing, car companies can cut down production costs. The concept of 3D designing enables engineers to design prototypes and and print them for testing before manufacturing the actual part.

Get your children to build their own car using fischer TiP and share with us the outcome.

If you have any insights or opinion about 3D printing in automobile industry, do drop a comment below. Also, tell us if you have any suggestions on how to teach children 3D concepts in making a car.

p/s: Have you read our article about Robi? You should check it out!

Disclaimer: The information provided is intended to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. We are not paid to write this article and these are only the ideas and thoughts generated personally unless stated otherwise.


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