Collaborative project enables robotic 3D-printing of automotive parts

An industry collaborative project saw the successful use of a robot to 3D-print a replacement lug on an automotive headlamp assembly.

The Repairbot project at Swinburn University collaborative effort with Tradiebot, supported by AMA Group, and backed by the federal government via the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

Swinburne’s material scientist Dr Nikzad and his team had to create a material with the right characteristics for 3D printing polypropylene, as well as the strength and toughness required to meet automotive quality standards.

This has resulted in the development of an in-house formulated polypropylene composite material that has enabled the robotics team to engineer the 3D print of a replacement lug directly on a headlight housing. The precision of a robotic arm enables the printing of complex geometries without the need for support material.

Similar applications of such technology has the ability to add value to an industry impacted by skills shortages and a lack of newly skilled personnel. This also paves the way for an economic shift towards an automotive repair industry where technicians work alongside advanced robotics systems.

“It’s amazing to witness something I envisioned three years ago becoming reality. It was such a complex project with many challenges to overcome,” Tradibot founder Mario Dimovksi said.

“What the Swinburne team have delivered is Australian innovation at its best. The Repairbot will allow repairs to be conducted on damaged automotive plastic parts not currently repairable by technicians. The benefits will affect repair shops, consumers and flow on to the environment diverting these damaged parts from landfill. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

He pointed out project success was largely attributed to the collaboration between roboticists and material scientists.

“The Repairbot project is a great example of industry and research collaboration. The researchers at Swinburne have wholeheartedly embraced Tradiebot’s idea of developing a technology-driven solution that will automate the repair service for automotive plastic parts,” Chuter said.

Source: pacetoday.com.au – Collaborative project enables robotic 3D-printing of automotive parts

11 Mar 2019