3D Printing Technology Hits the Road as EOS Makes Custom 3D Printed Car Parts…for Kids

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[Image: Wikipedia]

When we were kids, my younger sister had one of those red Little Tikes Cozy Coupe cars, which was all well and good until you had to Fred Flintstone it to get anywhere…that’s why I always coveted the electric Barbie cars. Another popular made-for-kids vehicle without pedals or a motor is the Bobby Car, and it’s this classic ride-on model that Germany-based Bobby Tailor focuses on. Since 2015, the company has produced custom-made Bobby Cars “for the discerning young motorist” that are inspired by the original plastic one, but in a luxury version, complete with a fine interior finish, alloy rims, quality electronics, a custom paint job, and, as of recently, some custom 3D printed parts, thanks to EOS. 3D printed car parts are nothing new, but we don’t often see them in miniature!

Inspired by real designs, parts like the front grill and the wheel rims are manufactured with industrial 3D printing and refined manually.

Bobby Tailor caters to hotels, flagship dealerships of car manufacturers, and exclusive private clients, which makes sense considering one of these pint-sized luxury cars will set you back anywhere from €3,200 to €4,450; check out the configurator on its website to learn more. The niche market for Bobby Tailor cars is thriving, but the company does try to keep the manufacturing costs as low as possible. The goal is to integrate customization with high quality products in a corresponding price structure, but Bobby Tailor often works in single-unit production, and the high level of individualized cars makes it difficult to produce every idea that Steffen de Bochdanovits, the owner and founder of Bobby Tailor, has for the cars, like aluminum wheel rims.

“It is impossible to mill the wheel rims from aluminum,” explained de Bochdanovits. “Costs aside, at this size, quite a few designs would simply not be achievable because the flexibility to customize is not there.”

He turned to the industrial 3D printing technology of EOS, which has some experience working with luxury cars, to solve the problem. Bobby Tailor uses the EOS M 290 DMLS system to 3D print small, complex metal parts and tools with conformal cooling. The company then uses the 3D printed tools and plastic injection molding to make the fuel cap, ignition lock, and key for its luxury kids’ cars. Using powdered plastic, the EOS P 396 laser sintering system prints out the car logo, cockpit, cooler, and hubcaps.

“The EOS technology has delivered a path for me, as an entrepreneur, to realize my ideas,” said de Bochdanovits. “After many years of management experience in the telecommunications industry, I was able, with the right business partners, to develop a unique, high-grade and customized product for the luxury segment in the shortest timeline imaginable – from the initial idea, through series production and market readiness. Just a few years ago this would have been unthinkable.”

Bobby Tailor’s partner company Creabis GmbH, an additive manufacturing expert, manufactures Bobby Tailor’s unique products, and also makes good use of the P 396 system to 3D print the complex aluminum rims out of PA 2200 material.

“Milling a component like this from aluminum is almost impossible. It is a relatively small form with a complex structure and the machine hours alone would be prohibitive. 3D-layering processes are cheaper, offer more design freedom and allow faster iterations,” said Ralf Deuke, the CEO at Creabis. “The EOS products provide access to the highest quality, as many of our customers would attest to. Now we can offer our partners a genuine first-class product.”

Instead of milled rims from aluminium, the 3D printed polymer rims look strikingly realistic and reduce production costs dramatically.

Bobby Tailor can now leverage EOS’ 3D printing technology to economically produce any batch size for its luxury kids’ cars, as well as successfully make series products and prototypes with less cost and a short lead-time – both important benefits when it comes to what 3D printing can offer manufacturers. The company saves a total of 22 hours by 3D printing each aluminum rim, which also helps lower the price, and it can also easily take special requests for wheel rim designs, with only a 2D photo as the source material, and quickly make it a reality.

“This type of service would, with conventional manufacturing technologies, either not be possible, or would mean incurring horrendous costs for the manufacturer and, ultimately, the customer,” said de Bochdanovits. “The possibility of having a high-quality Bobby Car additively manufactured forms the basis for my company’s entire business model. Through the support of competent service providers such as Creabis, we have been able to bring a completely new product to market in a very short space of time. That is a real paradigm shift.”

When Bobby Tailor was looking for a solution that would make manufacturing easier and less costly, the ability of 3D printing to manufacture complex structures sealed the deal. As the company continues to 3D print more components for its cars, even for small order sizes, EOS technology will continue to benefit Bobby Tailor in its endeavors.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below.

[Source: EOS / Images: Bobby Tailor unless otherwise noted]


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