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Case Study – Rapid Prototyping for the Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle

THE CHALLENGE

Deliver a cast prototype part within a week.

The Hawkei is a light protected mobility vehicle being designed and developed in Australia by Thales. Albins Performance Transmissions are a Ballarat company and a key supplier to Thales for the Hawkei vehicle.

Albins was asked by Thales Bendigo to deliver a prototype steering pump bracket for the Hawkei within one week. One option was to machine the part from a block of metal. However, this would not have been representative of the cast production design – it would have created a different grain structure and material properties to a cast part. Significant quantities of waste material would also have been produced.

THE SOLUTION

Create a mould using 3D sand printing.

Albins asked the CSIRO if they could make a casting mould within two days. Working from a digital file of the bracket, the CSIRO manufactured the mould using their Voxel Jet VX1000 3D sand printer over a weekend. The bracket was then cast using the mould – all within the one week deadline. Importantly, the part delivered had the same grain structure and material properties as the production design. Thales and Albins were very pleased with both the quality of the product and the fast turn-around time provided.

Steve MacDonald, CEO of Albins Performance Transmissions, said “This was a brilliant way to shortcut the prototype process and produce a low volume prototype with the exact properties of a production part. To produce a part for validation testing using conventional methods would have cost several times more in tooling costs with a significant impact on the timeline of the project. To get a set of moulds produced so quickly was simply amazing! This has changed the way we think of new projects completely”.

Alex Henderson, Mechanical Engineer at Thales, said “To receive a production intent component in this time frame has allowed us to fast track validating the design. We are now looking at using the technology for developing other Hawkei components. This technology offers signifant efficiency gains for Thales when preparing Hawkei for production.”

The Voxeljet VX1000 opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the foundry industry and their customers. We are keen to partner with you to demonstrate the enormous versatility of this equipment, so please contact Mr Gary Savage (03 9545 8448 or gary.savage@csiro.au) to discuss your specific needs.

Hawkei PMV

Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle

3DP Mould

3D Printed Mould for the Hawkei Steering Pump Bracket

Thales Albins