Producing the right surface texture and grain on moulded trim components is important to the successful design of car interiors. But most car designers never get to know what their textures will feel like until they have been chemically etched into injection moulding dies and the first components start coming off the production line.
Rover, in conjunction with Glossop-based mould etching company Gravutex Eschmann, has been pioneering the use of a patented method for applying a textured surface to stereolithography prototypes. Its designers can now see and feel the grain, and alter it if necessary before it is etched into the moulds. According to Rover project engineer Mick Priest*, this allows them to be much more creative with texture designs. The textured prototypes are so good they are being used as patterns to produce injection moulding dies in silicon, sprayed metal and cast zinc alloy for low volume production of trim components.
Rover sends stereolithography models of trim components to Gravutex along with CAD files containing data on the texture’s design. Gravutex uses these CAD files in its Flotek process to produce a thin, textured plastic sheet which is applied to the surface of the model. Once the texture has been applied, the prototype can be vacuum cast to produce a number of textured copies.
Mick Priest will be talking about the use of Flotek at Rover at the annual Time Compression Technologies Conference and Exhibition in Cardiff on 10-11 October. Speakers from Jaguar, Ford and BMW will also be talking about their use of rapid prototyping.
For more information contact Time Compression Technologies on 020 7924 5655 or visit www.time-compression.com
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