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Thursday, September 2, 2010

British Automotive Design & Manufacturing Firm Reduces Prototyping Times By 68%



T.25 City Car by Gordon Murray Design.
Problem: Standard extruded seal kinks when following extreme curvature to maintain section.
Solution: Tool set including sacrificial core to produce moulded seal.
Result: Moulded seal, mould tool & core.
New door seal without kinks.
How Does FDM Compare to Traditional Methods for Gordon Murray?
Method Cost Estimate  Time Estimate
£ 1892  75 hours
In-house prototyping
with Fortus
£ 792  24 hours
SAVINGS £ 1100
51 hours (68%)

Gordon Murray Design, led by McLaren Formula One veteran Gordon Murray, is based in Surrey, UK. Since its inception in 2007, the company has been at the forefront of automotive intellectual property, design, prototyping and development. Its first prototype, the T.25 City Car made its first public appearance in June, 2010.

The company invested in an additive manufacturing system in order to manage the entire design and prototyping process in-house. The machine is used in the Prototype Workshop to build multiple components for design and tooling.

Real Challenge

Gordon Murray had his epiphany moment whilst stuck in traffic on the A3 road in the UK. His motivation since that day has been to reduce congestion on roads by designing vehicles that are easier, cheaper and more ecological to run.

The company is behind the iStream assembly process. Winner of the prestigious Autocar ‘Idea of the Year’ award in 2008, iStream constitutes a radical redesign of the traditional manufacturing process. The simplified assembly process means that the manufacturing plant can be designed to be 20% of the size of a conventional factory. This can reduce capital investment in the assembly plant by at least 80%. The process is also very flexible, meaning that more than one car can be manufactured on-site at the same time. In order to protect its intellectual property, have control over the overall design process and save on outsourcing costs, Gordon Murray Design purchased a Fortus 3D Production System from Stratasys.

Gordon Murray cites ease of use and installation as being crucial for the company during the selection process. It was the reputation of Stratasys in the industry however that made them the perfect partner. “This has been demonstrated in Stratasys' commitment to forming an ongoing business relationship with us”, says Murray. "We have not had a single problem with either the machine or the company since day one."

Real Solution
Gordon Murray Design is fundamentally an R&D company, and as such the team is programmed to push design boundaries and solve problems. This has meant that they have been able to get more from the machine than they had ever envisaged. “We recently had a problem with the extrusions on rubber door seals", continues Murray. "Each time we tried to pull them into place the corners creased. We thought we would need to get a new tool molded just to enable us to pull the corners through. However, the designers decided to try the Fortus 400mc and managed to make both the tool and a soluble core directly on the machine. Into this mould, we were able to cast elastomer polyurethane resin to form the seals. The whole thing ending up costing us one pound instead of the twenty thousand pounds it would have cost to have it made off-site."

Prototyping and manufacturing using the Stratasys machine plays a significant part in helping to reduce development costs across the board. The Fortus 400mc has been involved throughout the design and prototype of the company's inaugural vehicle, code named T.25. The T.25 represents a major breakthrough in city car design. It has been optimized through design for strength, performance, weight, cost, safety, usability, tooling, quality, energy efficiency, recyclability and ease of assembly. Billed as being a unique, cool and fun driving experience, the T.25 also has some vital properties for successful city driving, such as being able to park at 90 degrees to the curb, park up to 3 cars in one parallel space and significantly reduce environmental impact, both in terms of material contact and day-to-day operation.

The Fortus 400mc was in use on the design of the T.25 every single day. It also outperformed its original expectations as Murray explains: "We were initially using the machine as a design tool but soon discovered that we could use it more and more for structural parts. In fact, we’ve designed the entire of the T.25 interior using the Stratasys machine - including the instrument panel, sun visor, internal mirrors and internal trim. We expect to be able to do the same with our next project, the T.27."

Real Benefits
The machine has helped Gordon Murray Design to significantly reduce costs and lead times associated with the production of many other prototype parts, enabling projects to be delivered quicker and more effectively. The company is now at work on its T.27, an all-electric three seater city car, made possible through a £4.5 million investment from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.

"The Stratasys machine will continue to make a huge contribution to bringing this new car to market", concludes Murray. "We look forward to developing our relationship further as we continue to make our vision for a new range of fun, affordable and energy efficient cars a reality."



"We were initially using the machine as a design tool but soon discovered that we could use it more and more for structural parts. In fact, we’ve designed the entire of the T.25 interior using the Stratasys machine."
-Gordon Murray, Gordon Murray Design
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