When Chevrolet set out to refresh the Malibu's interior and exterior for 2014, designers used one of the most cost-effective and time-saving methods in its high-tech tool box: rapid prototyping, also known as 3D printing. The processes literally grow prototype parts out of powder or liquid resin at a fraction of the cost associated with building tools to make test parts. Selective laser sintering and stereo lithography — the official names of the processes — helped accelerate Malibu's development and evaluation. Both processes use specialised software, math data and digital lasers, which accomplish in days what would have taken weeks of clay sculpting in the past. Rapid prototyping enables designers and engineers to quickly see, touch and test versions of individual components and systems in precise one-third scale and full-size models without having to make changes to production tooling, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.