Arash Motor Company, manufacturer of bespoke supercars, uses the MakerBot METHOD X to produce a range of production parts on its next-generation vehicle
Arash Motor Company, a UK-based manufacturer of hypercars and sports cars, is accelerating the use of 3D printing in its facilities with the MakerBot METHOD X 3D printer.
Led by Arash Farboud, founder and lead designer, the company predominantly makes boutique, lightweight, high power, and beautiful sports cars in low volume. Farboud's cars are designed to provide each owner with a unique and exhilarating journey down the open road. The company offers several models, including the AF8 Cassini sports car and AF10 electric-petrol hybrid.
As a long-time MakerBot user, Farboud has been using 3D printing in his design and development process for years. His production facility currently includes the MakerBot Replicator 2, Replicator Z18, and METHOD X, all of which are continuously used throughout the company's projects. With 3D printing, it allows the team to try out their suggestions on improving performance - from the composite structures, to the engines and electric motors, to the aerodynamics.
For the company's latest electric hypercar project, Farboud and his team utilized all three MakerBot 3D printers for a range of applications, giving them the flexibility and speed needed for production. Built with ultimate performance in mind, the new hypercar comes equipped with a carbon motor cartridge, multiple electric motors, an advanced battery pack, and a sleek aerodynamic design.
ENGINEERING THE FUTURE
Starting with a full-scale model produced using the Replicator 2, the team then began to design the complex chassis structure and the aerodynamic structure using the Replicator Z18. This included new techniques like suspension and wing design, wishbone suspension checks, hub and center lock fitments, and scale models to show structural parts.
Using a range of materials on the MakerBot METHOD X, including MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber and ABS, the team 3D-printed production parts to be used directly on the vehicle. The METHOD X produced parts in real form, allowing the team to use the parts for stress tests, brackets, gears, and other components for the car.
The hypercar has a lot of complex pieces inside, such as the rear and lower rear wing, so the team had to figure out how to reduce the weight of machining aluminium. To do that, they instead used 3D printed nylon carbon parts.
"We're using a lot of bracketry, fasting points, and fixing points around the car in a 3D-printed nylon carbon fiber. We're also using a lot of interior structures in ABS and nylon carbon fiber because it's quicker and easier to make. We're trying to get 95+% of the car in a composite material to be even higher, and we're also trying to reduce the complexity of manufacturing to 3D printing. We're only focusing on the parts that really matter in composite manufacturing - chassis, body panels, some interior structures. We're deskilling a lot of the processes in some ways and upskilling in other ways for the complexity and accuracy," Farboud stated.
The team used to send parts out to be machined locally or overseas, which was costly and time-consuming. But now they can send their CAD design directly to the METHOD X to make a part, check it, and test it.
"3D printing in-house also means you can get things done quickly, immediately, and at the lowest cost possible. That means you're able to experiment without too much fear and worry about spend. You're just spending money on your filament and your time so that allows you to try things out fearlessly," he continued.
With three designs from sketch to scale modeling to CAD modeling to fixtures, servicing, and interiors, the team was able to shorten their timeline, which can be up to several years, to 12 months. From that point on, they were able to create a couple of prototype and test vehicles - and then move towards full productization.
"The MakerBot 3D printer series reduces the time from a file on the computer screen to prototyping and checking for touch and feel. That's a big thing. Sometimes you miss a hole or a fixture, but you can catch that on a CAD model. Then after it's printed, you can physically check it," Farboud said.
"We are still using every 3D printer that we own because they still work really well. They have an ability to make parts dependent on size and their usage. In fact, the METHOD X and Z18 are currently being used nonstop at our facility. This allows us to not only produce parts as needed, but we can experiment with different filaments. It's a 24/7 operation for 3Dprinting," he continued.
The team uses nylon 12 carbon fiber for structural parts and anything that is put under tension. In addition, due to their strong thermal properties, both ABS and carbon fiber are frequently used as part of other machined carbon fiber structures, which would need to be cured at 90°C. They also use Tough for majority of the work, which has medium requirements for performance in terms of structural stability and pressure management. The team plans to experiment with more METHOD materials.
"The METHOD X has a built-in advantage of having a heated chamber, which is critical for us as it allows for dimensional accuracy. As the part is being made, the base doesn't move and there is no warping. This allows for high accuracy for a 3D printer of today's standards. We've done several tests and it's been very accurate each time," noted Farboud.
Previously, Farboud and his team would go through the time-consuming and cumbersome process of prototyping with aluminium - from fabricating, bending, welding, shaping, etc.
"This takes a long time with very skilled people. And now that skill isn't there anymore, or it's becoming even more expensive," Farboud said. "With 3D printing, the steps toward making trial parts have become easier. The focus now is getting your CAD design right. After that, you just press play and it gets made right there in your shop." The team uses MakerBot CloudPrint to slice, manage, preview, queue, and monitor their prints. MakerBot CloudPrint allows each of the designers to view the status of the prints on any of the printers.
"The amount of resources needed to do those steps is straining. Once you have a 3D printer to eliminate a lot of those steps, then you're allowing your resources to be used on things that really matter to you," he continued.
Farboud and his team have plans to continue using METHOD X to create more production parts to be used in the future.
"Most people think that 3D printing filaments being used are not strong enough, or that 3D printing is only used for models or prototypes. But we're actually using these parts on cars. They are accurate for our applications. We are using these parts on a daily basis for production. They're going to our customers," stated Farboud.
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