Automotive testimony: Perfect bumper match
Today we have the luxury to make use of large parts in stereolithography that are delivered in record times and are much more representative.
Bumper in stereolithography for Plastic Omnium
Plastic Omnium Auto Exterior is a global leader in the design and manufacture of bumpers, fenders, body panels and body modules. This Plastic Omnium division realises 15% of the automotive exterior components world market.
The inauguration of a new international research & development centre " S-Sigmatech " in 2002, clearly shows Plastic Omnium Auto Exterior's ambition to intensify their development efforts for the car of tomorrow.
At the 2003 Frankfurt show Plastic Omnium introduced an entirely new concept of fixing headlights onto the bumper instead of onto the vehicle. This project was taken to the next step in 2004. The project leaders needed a bumper skin that could be assembled with this new concept in order to be able to present it to different automotive manufacturers.
Mr. Jantet, prototype responsible at Plastic Omnium Auto Exterior, was thinking of stereolithography, more specifically of the Materialise stereolithography machines that are designed to build very large prototypes in one piece. "We needed to realise a skin that didn't exist on our workfloor and this at very short notice. Our confidence in the technology and the fact that Materialise proposed a material similar to polypropylene, convinced us to go for it. Stereolithography is often criticised as being too fragile for this kind of application, which is definitely not the case. "
The project was realised in two phases. Initially, Materialise built the bumper skin in one single piece within 5 days. This stereolithography part was then taken to PO to be completed with the other technical elements (like front part, and headlight housings). Afterwards, Materialise took care of the surface finish and painted the skin according to the coachwork colour. The surface finish, respecting the intrinsic design of the part, was carried out by Materialise specialists who received dedicated training for this.
"The quality of this type of component does not only allow to confirm a certain style but can also serve in the future for mounting-dismounting applications so that we can identify inconsistencies in an early stage of the development process.", indicates Mr. Jantet. " Before, we had to do with hand lay-up parts. It took ages to get hold of these parts and the technique did not allow to obtain the correct wall thickness or technical functions. Today we have the luxury to make use of large parts in stereolithography that are delivered in record times and are much more representative. "
Materialise started several years ago with developing their own stereolithography machines. These patented Mammoth machines are made to build large parts with dimensions up to 2100x600x780mm in amazingly short lead times. The materials that are used perform well and can simulate for instance PP or ABS.
Materialise wants to thank Mr. Jantet for sharing his experiences and for his warm reception.