AIC Opens Additive Manufacturing Centre

Auto Innovation Centre (AIC) has unveiled its new facility which provides additive manufacturing, a crucial component of the centre’s capability.

The AIC says additive manufacturing allows designers to test product fitment, identify issues or potential design problems and to study, improve and optimise. 3D printers can produce intricate and difficult designs that are not simple or cheaply replicated with regular equipment or production techniques.

The AIC’s new Additive Manufacturing Centre has three different printers, each providing different options for automotive product developers to suit their requirements.

AIC said for companies that are prototyping or want to produce small production runs, the HP Jet Fusion 580 Colour can create strong, useable parts and can print in colour.  An example of a part created in the 3D printer is a brake duct which is intricate and has a thin wall, making it well suited to additive manufacturing.

The company says it has purchased a 3D Systems Figure 4 for smaller part prototyping, short production runs and quality creations with a high level of surface detail. The Figure 4 uses stereolithography to create parts that may ordinarily be injection moulded, and a variety of resins are available to produce parts with varying flexibility, from rubberised to nylon.

AIC added that the Stratasys F370 is an FDM machine with a large build bed, capable of producing larger creations quickly and is another strong option for prototyping. Typical uses for the machine are large packaging studies where bulk volume accuracy is more important than detailed surface finish.

“Additive manufacturing is an integral part of our new product development,” said Heath Moore, General Manager at Harrop Engineering. “It is critical for us being able to get to market sooner with a product that has been tested and validated before full production occurs. The result is savings in time and costs throughout our production process.”

The AIC additive manufacturing facilities have an in-house fleet of new production vehicles and a fully equipped workshop. Companies will be able to get 3D scan information and measurements to assist CAD creation. After printing, companies can test-fit products to the AIC fleet vehicles.

“Our purpose is to assist business to bring products to market,” said Luke Truskinger, Managing Director at AIC. “Additive manufacturing is one important service offering that provides new opportunities to aftermarket companies across Australia.”

Colad Unveils Snap Lid System For SMART Repairs

Colad has released a small version of its Snap Lid system which is specifically designed for SMART repairs.

The system is available in two versions, 130 and 190 microns, and each system is comprised of 50 Snap Lids, 50 mixing cups and 10 sealing caps. The system is designed to enable quick and cost-effective repair to an area with small cosmetic damage by focusing on damage in a small localised area without needing to repaint the entire panel.

Colad says the solution takes less time and effort and reduces the cost of material and paint. Additionally, the cups are made of advanced durable plastic which makes them quite strong.

For more information, visit www.snaplid.com.

Nouryon Introduces Ingredient To Improve Battery Performance

Nouryon has begun the first deliveries of AkuPure, a carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) polymer designed to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which are skyrocketing in demand due to increased consumer interest in electric vehicles.

Nouryon says AkuPure is an ultra-high-purity CMC that improves the electrode coating process, making the battery more efficient by helping it to retain and deliver power more effectively. CMC is a sustainable polymer derived from cellulose sources such as wood or cotton that is used as a thickener, binder and rheology modifier in markets ranging from mining to pharmaceuticals.

“Customers in this market require ultrapure CMC [and] impurities can interfere with the performance of the battery or with production efficiency,” said Geert-Jan Beijering, Nouryon Product Director. “AkuPure has a number of properties key to the battery production process, such as the speed at which it dissolves and its low level of insolubles. The possibility to frequently charge and discharge a battery without losing performance under various temperature conditions is what matters most to our customers in this segment.”

“Our R&D team worked extremely hard to create a top-tier version of AkuPure, and this is the right time to bring this technology to market,” said Larry Ryan, Nouryon Americas Executive Vice President and President of Performance Formulations. “Demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to rise, and as battery manufacturers struggle to find CMC that meet the stringent demands of the industry, we are introducing a more advanced solution.”

Nouryon recently announced plans to acquire CMC business J.M. Huber Corporation, which the company hopes will significantly broaden its portfolio of CMC products.

Hyundai, Kia Develop First Predictive Shift System

Hyundai and Kia have announced their development of the “world’s first predictive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) connected shift system”, which enables the vehicle to automatically shift to the optimal gear after identifying the road and traffic conditions ahead.

According to the two companies, the system uses intelligent software in the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) that collects and interprets real-time input from other technology, such as including 3D navigation, cameras and radar. The TCU then predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations through an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly. For example, when a relatively long slowdown is expected and radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead, the transmission clutch temporarily switches to neutral mode to improve fuel efficiency.

“Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions,” said Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab head, Byeong Wook Jeon. “Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimised for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies.”

The companies tested a vehicle with the ICT connected shift system on a heavily curved road, resulting in the frequency of shifts in cornering being reduced by around 43 per cent compared to vehicles without the system. The system also reduced the frequency of brake operation by about 11 per cent, minimising driving fatigue and brake wear.

Hyundai and Kia say they are planning to further develop the ICT connected shift system into an even more intelligent transmission technology that can communicate with traffic signals based on LTE or 5G communication, along with identifying drivers’ tendencies, to further refine gear-shift control.

Plastfix Develops First Automated Headlight Repair System

Plastfix has developed the first known prototype of an automated headlight repair system using robotics, software algorithms, 3D scanning and a custom automotive polypropylene-based 3D printing material. Plastfix said it had spent three years of R&D on the so-called ‘Repairbots’ in collaboration with research partners Swinburne University and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The company said the patented solution is moving towards expanding its repair range and commercialising a more compact, industry-suited, automated system that is more affordable and easily utilised in any collision repair facility worldwide. The network of Repairbots will be supported by Plastfix’s central control centre in Europe, managed via a cloud-based inventory of repair programmes and headlight tab CAD data.

“The team has been outstanding during this project as we overcame several significant obstacles, not the least of which was that we had to engineer our own polymer as commercial grades were unsuitable [for] our application,” said Dr Mats Isaksson, Project Leader at Swinburne University of Technology.

The system replicates the manual lug repair-kit solution that OEMs use to replace broken tabs for certain headlights, but instead of screwing the tabs into the provided repair points on the headlight, the Repairbot system 3D-prints a set of staking posts. A heat staking method is then used to attach the tab which gives a cleaner outcome than the screw heads being exposed.

“It is so amazing to see how far we’ve come since the idea was floated back in 2017,” said David Chuter, CEO of IMCRC. “Australia is the perfect market for such innovation and this demonstration has been tremendous. Congratulations to the team at Swinburne and to all those involved throughout the journey.”

The company is continuing research and testing but hopes to 3D-print the entire replacement tab directly onto the headlight as materials and technology evolve.

“We now move into the exciting part of commercialisation,” said Mario Dimovski, owner of Plastfix and Tradiebot Industries. “The Tradiebot EU team has been working on the project for the last 12 months side-by-side with Swinburne and are preparing a more finetuned commercial Repairbot system ready for use in today’s collision repair industry.

“We have come so far and learnt so much and the advancements in technology and hardware [are] positive as the systems become faster and products are more affordable, ultimately allowing us to build an end product in reach of any collision repair or parts supply business, no matter its size.

“Our end goal is to have these Repairbot units on the shelf for sale by the start of next year retailing for approximately US$20,000, including an ongoing subscription and material cost.

“We are currently exploring all market opportunities with collision groups, OEMs and part suppliers to [determine] the best fit for our solution. In the end, if we can assist the industry to repair more headlights instead of buying new, reducing repair costs and [diverting] them from landfill, it’s a win for both business, consumers and the environment.”

JLR Developing Shape-Shifting Seat

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing a new shape-shifting seat, designed to improve customer wellbeing, that will target health risks of sitting down for too long.

The seat uses a series of actuators in the seat foam to create constant micro-adjustments that make your brain think you’re walking and may eventually be tailored to each individual driver and passenger.

Over a quarter of people worldwide (around 1.4 billion) are leading increasingly stationary lifestyles which can shorten muscles in the legs, hips and gluteals, causing back pain and increasing the chance of injury from falls or strains.

“The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects,” said Dr Steve Iley, JLR Chief Medical Officer. “We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.”

Dr Iley has also issued advice on how to adjust your seat to ensure the perfect driving position. He said to remove bulky items in your pocket, note your shoulder positioning, ensure your spine and pelvis are straight, and support your thighs to reduce pressure points.

Symach Develops UVA-LEDtronic Technology

Symach has announced its new UVA-LEDtronic technology for drying and curing UV coating products.

Symach says the product is unique compared to known products on the market today, because it is more powerful with a lower 90-watt energy consumption, along with being more than double the drying speed of most known systems. The UV-LEDtronic is available as a portable lamp, the UVA-LEDtronic M1, that covers an area of 50 centimetres, or in the Flydry robotic version which is available in a FlyDry Hybrid model with IR-Drytronic and the UV-LEDtronic. There is also a UV-LEDtronic-only version called the FlyDry LE.

The LEDs used are of different wavelengths throughout the UV-A segment and are assembled along a line of reflectors which are designed to achieve the fastest and most efficient drying result. The LEDs are controlled by an electronic board with a temperature control device that shuts off the electric power if the device overheats from prolonged use. The LEDs are installed on an aluminium support equipped with a heat sink which allows for prolonged use of the lamp and drying several car panels in sequence.

Hyundai Develops Enhanced Cabin Noise Dampening Technology

Hyundai Motor Group says it has developed a world-first Road Noise Active Noise Control (RANC) system. The new system dramatically reduces noise within the cabin of a vehicle.

RANC builds on the company’s current Active Noise Control (ANC) technology, which actively reduces noise by emitting sound waves inverted to incoming noise. ANC analyses the in-cabin sound to decrease engine and road noise, as opposed to the passive method of blocking noise through sound insulation.

Existing insulation methods involved insulation materials and dynamic dampers which increased weight and failed to block all buzzing infrasound. In contrast, ANC utilises much lighter parts like microphones and controllers to control the noise and reduces infrasound more efficiently.

Current ANC technology is limited by noise measurement and analysis technology, which is only able to be utilised when the noise is constant and the occurrence of the noise predictable. The new RANC can significantly improve quietness within the cabin by analysing various types of noise in real-time and produce inverted sound waves. It can process different types of road noises such as resonant sounds created between tyres and wheels or rumble sounds coming up from the road.

RANC uses an acceleration sensor to calculate the vibration from the road to the car, with the control computer taking 0.002 seconds to analyse the road noise and produce an inverted sound wave. The microphone constantly monitors the road noise cancellation status and sends the information to the digital signal processor (DSP).

Hyundai Motor Group said RANC was able to reduce in-cabin noise by 3dB – roughly half the noise compared to without RANC – potentially decreasing the amount of unsprung weight in a vehicle and utilising fewer sound-insulating parts and dampers.

The conglomerate has completed Korean and American patent applications for the location of sensors and the signal selection method – core RANC technologies. It added that RANC will first appear in an upcoming Genesis model.

New Glasurit Clear Coat Boosts Efficiency

Glasurit says its new 923-610 HS clear fast drying VOC offers improved body shop efficiency thanks to an array of application options, shorter process times and lower energy costs.

According to Glasurit, 923-610 HS is suited for quickly repairing cosmetic damage and individual panels, as well as for refinishing entire vehicle sides. The new clear coat needs no flash-off time and provides an excellent finish after only a short drying time in the oven at 60°C panel temperature. 923-610 HS also boasts outstanding drying properties at 40°C and room temperature.

Glasurit says the clear coat has excellent polishing characteristics and can be applied to both vertical and horizontal panels, and used flexibly during a single application. It adds that a perfect paint result can be produced with 1.5-2 spray coats, regardless of whether HVLP or RP spray guns are used.

Axalta Sells 60,000 Spectrophotometers

Axalta Coating Systems has announced the sale of its 60,000th spectrophotometer, with 10,000 sold globally in the past 15 months alone. The digital tools are used to accurately and quickly colour match, boosting the efficiency of body shops.

“Adopting a digital approach to colour matching and retrieval is a global trend that started 25 years ago when Axalta was one of the first coatings companies to offer a digital device and software to refinish customers,” said Dr Martin Wulf, Axalta’s Colour and Technical Manager for Refinish Systems in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Today, we encourage all of our users to future-proof themselves and optimise their efficiency by moving to digital colour measurement.”

Axalta says that refinishers take the colour readings from a vehicle’s paintwork using the spectrophotometer, which then wirelessly sends the readings to Axalta’s online global colour database. The colour matching software searches over 200,000 constantly-updated formulas and where necessary, automatically adjusts the closest formula to provide refinishers with the closest match. It can then be selected on a smartphone or tablet and sent via Wi-Fi to an IP scale for mixing the colour formula.

“The future is now,” said Wulf. “The spectrophotometer is clearly a valuable part of modern refinish work. We expect to see continued and significant growth globally as body shops adopt a completely digital way of working. For customers who are looking at going digital, we will support and help them make a seamless transition to a fully digital colour management process.”