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Based in South Korea, Hyundai Mobis has been an automotive parts manufacturer and supplier for more than 40 years. A future-thinking company, Hyundai Mobis has just become the first automotive supplier, rather than global automaker, to open a design research facility in Korea. Called the Design Model Workshop, the facility was announced late last week. The company has invested about ₩3 billion in the workshop, which will have a floor area of 430 square meters and will be located in Hyundai Mobis’ R&D center in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do.

The company plans to use the workshop to assess how well 3D printed auto components go with a car, so they will be creating life-sized clay models of cars using a large clay model processing machine, and 3D printing parts that will then be fitted to the mockup. New cars will be created in this way, establishing an optimal design process that goes with each model. This process is expected to speed up Hyundai Mobis’ automotive design, as they can have a full car model at an early stage in the process and modify samples in a single place. Designers will be able to work with an actual physical, full-sized model, rather than a virtual one on a screen.

[Image: Hyundai Mobis]

3D printing the components will save significant time as well, and the company plans to improve precision by 3D scanning samples of parts and utilizing the data acquired from the scans.

Hyundai Mobis plans to stay ahead of the industry by proactively offering new component designs reflecting the latest trends to customers. For example, the company can 3D print several designs of a head lamp, then show the various designs to the customer and let them decide which version goes best with the car.

“Adding design, which is within the area of emotion, to performance and quality will allow us to secure a competitive edge over global rivals,” said Hyundai Mobis Design Director Kang Han-tae.

[Image: Glassdoor]

The clay processing machine is somewhat like a CNC machine, with a robot arm that cuts clay into the shape of a car. Color and texture are then added, so that the car looks identical to an actual one. The components will be 3D printed on a powder bed 3D printer.

Hyundai Mobis is far from the first automotive company to use 3D printing to prototype car components, or to introduce a dedicated center for innovation, but this method of building a life-sized car model and fitting 3D printed parts to it is particularly ingenious. It introduces a speed and accuracy that gives Hyundai Mobis a major advantage, allowing the company to speed production and time to market.

“The new design model workshop will enable Hyundai Mobis to preemptively and precisely respond to customers’ demands,” the company stated. “The usage of 3-D printers shortens the manufacturing time of auto part samples, reducing costs.”

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