Posted on: Jan 10th, 2018, | By Candy, WayKen Marketing Manager
Some people say: Prototyping is the lost art of industrial design. As new technologies and tools are constantly developed, the modern industrial designers drive design process toward simpler direction. Also, thanks to the development of 3D CAD modeling and rendering software, it have allowed designers and engineers to turn photo-realistic images into real prototype of product.
This article summaries how the headlamp industrial prototype is being manufactured and what materials are used in industrial design prototyping.
With the rise in the development of the global automotive industry, industrial prototypes for the headlamps now require substantially lesser time for a new model along with the upcoming cars in the market in order to improve the overall market responsiveness. However, the conventional methods of design and manufacturing tend to have a hard time keeping up with the demand in the market. How to lower the headlamp production time and mould manufacturing cycle has become world’s problem which requires a prompt solution.
Rapid Prototyping can effectively lower the development cycle and production costs. This allows for the production of the vehicles and their headlamps to sync across. Mould and products that deem to be too complex or time-consuming for the traditional processing can easily be manufactured using rapid prototyping.
Why is Headlamp Needed?
Car headlamps, also commonly referred as car headlights are not only related to the car aesthetics but are also an essential part of the car that allows for safe navigation when the visibility is low due to the time of the day or due to other environmental factors. For the headlamp of the automobile to be fully functional and effective, it must be made sure that the material of the headlamp is fully bright and has proper illumination while in operation. Visibility of at least 100m is mandatory. A headlamp is inclusive of lens, bezels, reflector and the housing.
In order to make sure that the particular headlamp is safe to use, rigorous testing on industrial prototypes of headlamps are carried out before full production.
The Material Used in Automotive Headlamps
Plastics, either engineering plastics or general plastics are the material of choice in the automotive industry. They are now used in favour of expensive non-ferrous metals and alloy steel.
Among many different parts in an automobile, there is an increase in the number of plastics in headlamps not only to reduce weight but also to bring convenience to the manufacturer and the customer. Headlamps made with PC (PolyCarbonate) and PMMA lens tend to be more expensive than that made with glass, but on the other hand, headlamps made with PC and PMMA provides better performance and durability as compared to glass. These plastics are more durable, better scratch-resistant and lighter in weight as compared with traditional glass.
Structural parts such as the housing are made with ABS, PEI and PCHT. These plastics are strong, long lasting and light in weight. They are also easier and faster to produce as compared with other industrial materials. All these factors make them an ideal alternative to materials that were used before.
The reflectors in the headlamps are usually manufactured with soft steel such as P-20 and aluminium such as 7075 T-6. As opposed to hard steel, using these materials can effectively increase the processing speed by a staggering 25% and the polishing time is also lowered by roughly eight times. These materials are also lighter in weight as compared with hard steel. This allows for the overall manufacturing time to be decreased which is crucial for the manufacturer and the client.
Headlamp Prototype Manufacturing
Apart from the conventional prototyping techniques, modern rapid prototyping techniques such as CNC machining and 3D printing are heavily used now. Following are the different technical applications for the different stages of industrial prototypes of headlamps based upon Wayken’s years of expertise and technical expertise in the field.
Good product design and engineering are essential for the success of any product. Therefore, before any headlamp goes into full production, good concept creation and proper prototyping is a must. The concept creation is usually first draw by hand in order to visualize the concept. Under the concept creation of the prototype, industrial grade CAD software such as Autodesk Inventor and CATIA are being used. Once conceptualising the prototype, it is essential that the prototype is made with all the functionality of the final product instead of just focusing over its aesthetics.
CNC is usually the method of choice for many industrial prototypes. For headlamps as well, CNC plays a major role. Headlamp prototyping carried out via CNC machining is characterised as highly responsive, having short turnovers and high precision. The turnovers are usually within 1-2 weeks. Since headlamps require high precision, CNC is the best option to take.
For the Bezels and the lens of the headlamps that require high-precision, 5-axis CNC is used to make the prototypes. For other structural parts of the headlamps requiring less precision such as the housings of the headlamp, rapid prototyping techniques such as Stereolithography (SLA) is used.
SLA for a Headlamp
Once the concept has been finalised, the actual manufacturing can take place. Since automotive headlamps consist of many different small sized parts, the complete headlamp cannot be manufactured using a single 5-axis CNC machining process, rather a number of different components are being manufactured first and then put along together.
In the later stage of prototyping after all the parts are assembled; polishing, bonding, deburring and painting is carried out. For the prototype to be successful and make into full production, it is essential that innovative product designing is being carried out in the initial development stages of the prototype.
Prototype development of a headlamp can be a challenging task for many designers and engineers as different rapid prototyping techniques and materials are being used to create the final product. In order to make sure that your manufacturer meets all your product design and engineering needs, it is wise to approach the reliable manufacturer in town. At Wayken, we pioneer and excel in automotive headlamp manufacturing and prototyping. We welcome you to come with your ideas from any product design prototyping and see them become a profitable reality.