Rapid prototyping is being increasingly incorporated into the automotive manufacturing process by big-name companies and one of the latest brands to recognise the benefit of this technique is Chevrolet.
The General Motors-owned carmaker is now rolling versions of the 2014 Malibu off the production line and the model comes complete with new interior and exterior updates made possible thanks to the high-tech rapid prototyping process.
Using specialised software, mathematical data and digital laser technology, Chevrolet has lauded the process for enabling it to develop parts at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional tooling.
"What would have taken weeks of clay sculpting now only takes days helping to speed new models to market faster," the company stated.
Rapid prototyping, the brand explained, came into its own when making the Malibus new floor console, which features innovative and convenient holders for both the driver and a passenger's smartphones.
Furthermore, the console is lighter weight than previous components, which has contributed to the Malibu 2014's improved fuel economy.
The Malibu team also utilised rapid prototyping for the redesigned facia. The use of this technique to make the prototype part enabled aerodynamic and climatic wind tunnel testing to take place without the need for expensive production parts.
The team also used rapid prototyping to re-sculpt the Malibu's front seat back panels for improved rear seat access and passenger comfort.
"General Motors' ability to rapidly fabricate inexpensive prototype parts throughout the vehicle enabled the new Malibu to go from drawing board to production quicker than ever," Chevrolet remarked.