David Hayward, Operations Manager Design Studio with Bentley Motors Ltd in Crewe (UK) and Keynote Speaker at Rapid.Tech, sheds light on the possibilities arising from AM or Rapid Prototyping in creating exclusive cars. The design studio has been employing generative processes for 10 years now. In the beginning they were used only for a handful of parts such as scale model wheels or interior components. Since then the progress made in machinery and materials has paved the way for the construction of scale models (1:3 and 1:10) for a large number of interior and exterior parts, e.g. door mirrors, sills, headlights, grills, switches and the MMI unit, by AM. In a matter of hours different design variations are easily manufactured and physically compared. This modeling required days to months before, thus design alternatives were mainly established on paper and hand made parts. Quality and optics of generatively produced parts almost match the real parts produced in series in the future. At the same time freedom of design is dramatically raised, since the designer is no longer constrained by the later production process and can act in a more creative way.
The employment of AM can contribute to the reduction of the model design cycle and has further advantages of customizing components and equipment to the customer’s desire.
Meanwhile, the design studio of the luxury carmaker not only manufactures automobile parts but also individual and exclusive products designs like eyeglasses or jewelry for Bentley customers. David Hayward sees no reason that in the future automobiles shouldn't be entirely produced by generative manufacturing - at least for smaller series. AM components in Formula 1 cars and in the aviation industry already have proved that they are as robust and reliable as their conventional counterparts. According to Mr. Hayward, AM could eventually change part logistics in the automotive industry as well: Suppliers will not ship their parts to car makers, but will have their production machines implemented into the production line of their clients.