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Hyundai’s 3D printed jigs optimize pre- and mass-production phases

Hyundai’s 3D printed jigs optimize pre- and mass-production phasesAutomakers have been among the first to leveraging additive manufacturing technology. From Mercedes Benz and BMW to Volkswagen and Porsche, automakers knew from the start that additive manufacturing will be a game changer for them.

In the initial phases, the technology was reserved for prototyping parts and creating initial samples to allow teams to bring their innovations to life and enable them to touch and feel the parts – and perhaps step into the customer’s shoes to gauge if there would be interest in them.

Today, with advancements in additive manufacturing, automakers are keen to use the technology more expansively.

One of the first things that comes to mind, of course, is the use of additive manufacturing to create production quality parts. Yes, that’s possible – but Hyundai seems to have other ideas in mind.

The company understands that the technology exists to help it solve hard problems. So, the company dug deep and found a challenge for its team to overcome.

In the automotive industry, cars often have dozens of lamp assemblies – which need to be set up correctly. To achieve the desired results, workers use handheld tools known as jigs to measure gaps and inspect the assemblies. While the majority of this work is done pre-production, it is also done on the production line, for every vehicle produced, which makes this a critical task.

Hyundai realized that its teams heavily relied on these jigs – traditionally made of aluminum – but hoped to leverage additive manufacturing to accelerate the lead time, improve the accuracy, reducing the weight of the jig, without incurring additional costs or losing the mechanical strength provided by the aluminum jig.

Of course, 3D printing delivered – and Hyundai was able to achieve a 30% weight reduction thanks to a honeycomb structure. The project also delivered on other goals set by Hyundai.

It’s interesting to note that Hyundai achieved this result using laser sintering, and chose to work with PA-AF (which is a blend of aluminum powder and polyamide powder). It also leveraged milling to achieve surface accuracy and reduce weight from 1.8kg to (less than) 1kg.

The results achieved by Hyundai are impressive – and other automotive players in the market need to catch up especially if their additive manufacturing technology projects aren’t at par with Hyundai and others leading this space. Advantage Engineering has significant experience in this space, with automakers as well as additive manufacturing technologies. Reaching out to the team at Advantage Engineering can be a great first step for those looking to leverage the firm’s experience to accelerate their projects.