The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has announced the winners of its 48th-annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition. It is the oldest and biggest recognition event in the automotive and plastics industries. 2018 is the first year that the competition awarded winners in the category of Additive Manufacturing.
The winner, Stratasys and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, co-manufactured a window alignment fixture for the 2017 Ford Motor Co. Mustang convertible sports car. The fixture integrated pneumatic control, eyelets for a stowage rack, trigger switch housing, ergonomic handles, gage protector deflector and pneumatic tubing retainers, and switch mounts. It was 3D-printed using the Fortus 900mc by Stratasys with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) from PA 12 with 35% fill of short carbon fiber.
Compared to a traditional welded fixture, the 3D-printed fixture was 30% lighter and cheaper to produce. In addition, manufacturing was more efficient, requiring only 50 hours to build the integrated fixture with handles and mounting brackets. The plastic tool allows for easier handling and avoided the need for a lift assist, thus improving ergonomics.