GM creates rapid 3D prototyping to cut time, money spent on clay modeling

Chevrolet Camaro Clay Model

Research and development for any car and any manufacturer is a downright tedious and stressful process. However, General Motors decided to share one of its newest tactics that will help reduce the cost and time of R&D.

Where as companies these days spend many hours and dollars with engineers and designers, who carve out clay models and molding for prototype parts by hand, General Motors has what’s called three-dimensional rapid prototyping. Similar to using AutoCad in the field of architecture, General Motors uses their own special 3D lab and software, allowing them to design and create prototype parts faster than ever.

GM’s latest EN-V concept was designed using these methods and tools, some of which include devices and techniques called selective laser sintering and stereolithography…whatever that is. This allows designers to go from computer models to one-off parts for testing faster and cheaper than ever before.

“Long before a full-size model or vehicle is built, rapid prototyping helps to improve the accuracy of the one-third scale models that are used for early aerodynamic testing,” said Aerodynamic Development Engineer Suzanne Cody. “Air-flow through the engine compartment and underneath the car is critical to both cooling the engine and lowering drag.”

Thanks to rapid prototyping, testing capacity in General Motors doubled within the last two years, according to the American automobile behemoth. Not to mention this method also helps reduce the margin for error. And that’s not all since rapid prototyping allows GM to generally fully detailed designs and models of nearly every part on a new car.

“3D rapid prototyping is enabling the designers and engineers at Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac to stretch the creative envelope,” said John Green, superintendent of GM’s Design Fabrication Operations. “We can bring more attractive, functional and aerodynamic vehicles to market in less time and at lower cost than ever before.”

– By: Chris Chin