Italo Moriggi, General Manager at Skorpion Engineering, a specialist automotive service bureau, faced a challenge–customer requirements were shifting away from rudimentary clay models. And whatever prototypes the company chose to deliver, had to be finished quickly. So, they turned to the additive manufacturing equipment they had in-house.
With offices in Milan and Turin, Italy, the company has six Stratasys 3D printers to fulfill exterior and interior automotive prototypes – from door handles to full-size seat frames. Using FDM 3D printers, Skorpion Engineering can respond to customer requests within 24-hours while its PolyJet 3D printers are driving greater part complexity and precision compared to traditional prototypes.
One recent example is a full-sized car bumper. Using the large build tray of a Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, Skorpion Engineering produced the part 50% faster compared to the time it would have taken to make the bumper from clay.
“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, says Moriggi. “In fact, with 3D printing we can send prototypes to our customers the very next day.”
According to Moriggi, the ability to replace heavy clay prototypes with lightweight yet robust FDM materials is integral to giving customers improved part aerodynamics while offering the same mechanical characteristics as the final component.
“Crucially, this ability to produce fully functional parts allows our customers to undergo aesthetic and functionality verification faster. This directly enhances their overall production cycle and helps accelerate their time-to-market,” he adds.
For custom, precise prototypes, the company calls upon its PolyJet 3D printers. A recent project saw the company use its Objet350 Connex3 3D Printer to simultaneously combine varying textures of rigid and soft material to produce an accurate vehicle dashboard in one print.
“The ability to combine contrasting material characteristics helps us optimize parts and show how customers can save time and capital by overcoming engineering challenges early in the design phase. In terms of the dashboard, we could deliver this to our customer 50% faster compared to traditional methods,” explains Moriggi.
“As we continue to push the prototyping capabilities of our 3D printers, we are discovering the wider manufacturing potential they possess,” he adds. “Our goal is to use additive manufacturing to realize the production of a fully functional concept car within the next five years.”