The future is now!
The LQ from Toyota stands for a new understanding of mobility and for futuristic design, both outside and in. That's why the designers in Japan aimed to develop a center console for the LQ that is much more than a practical armrest. Functionality and safety were to be combined with a completely new design to create something incomparable. Of course, without breaking the strict budget.
The decision to use additive manufacturing to produce the console was an obvious one. With FIT as a partner, Toyota's goal in this project was to develop and produce a center console that had to be:
The starting point was an initial design draft of the console, which was still too heavy due to its relatively massive geometry and therefore too expensive to manufacture. At this point, the design experts from FIT took over further development.
Design is the key
What is particularly exciting about the console box, however, is its inner structure, as it is a very lightweight, hollow construction. To ensure the necessary stability, the design professionals at FIT developed a network of struts whose profile was precisely matched to the loads on the console. This ensured that the center console weighed only 7.0 kg, yet was robust enough to pass the required safety tests for road approval.
The design project simultaneously defined the manufacturing strategy for 3D printing. Quality and manufacturing costs were key considerations. Due to the size of the console, it was not possible to manufacture the component in one piece. So the console was broken down into 8 individual parts, which together could be perfectly produced in one build job.
To ensure that the regulations regarding flame retardancy for components in the interior of vehicles were met, a thorough material selection was carried out before production. As part of an ADM-D project, various material alternatives were analysed for their suitability and tested accordingly. This showed that PA 2241 FR was the optimum material for manufacturing the console box.
Additive series production (ADM-V)
A total of 32 console boxes were produced with this flame-retardant plastic, 20 of which were installed in vehicles and 12 were used for test purposes at Toyota. Selective laser sintering (SLS or PBF-LB/P) was used as the manufacturing process for series production. In order to control the quality of the manufacturing process, corresponding test specimens were built for each console box.
After the individual parts had been de-powdered and blasted, the console box was assembled. This had to be precise so that the console could be easily installed in the respective vehicle in Japan using special clips. To ensure this, special gauges were used, made of Oriol, specifically designed by FIT, manufactured via CNC milling. Their exact dimensions were ensured by means of tactile 3D coordinate measurement. With this tool, it was possible to reliably check whether all parts were correctly dimensioned and perfectly fitting together. For the final assembly, the individual parts were welded together. The seams were precisely ground flat so that a perfectly smooth surface was achieved for the painting process undertaken at Toyota.
In the final quality assurance stage, each console box was optically scanned using a GOM scanner according to Toyota's precise specifications. The results were summarized in a detailed inspection report. In addition, the installation of the electronic components (touchpad, buttons, switches) was simulated. For this purpose, FIT produced true-to-original dummies using SLA from Accura HPC. Their dimensional accuracy was again checked by tactile 3D coordinate measurement. This ensured that the components fit perfectly during final assembly and that the corresponding gap dimensions were consistently maintained.
Packaging was also carried out with great care. For this purpose, the console boxes were packed in cartons with special filler material, placed on pallets and provided with the appropriate cautionary notes. In this way, all the consoles arrived intact in Japan.
The special process requirements
The particular challenge in this project was to develop a design that on the one hand met Toyota's high demands, but on the other hand could also be produced at a reasonable cost. Both have been achieved in this project, with Toyota benefiting in particular from the following advantages:
It was the combination of design and manufacturing expertise that convinced Toyota to realize the project together with FIT. The fact that FIT was able to produce not only the components themselves, but also the necessary gauges, dummies, etc., thus guaranteeing the perfect quality of the console boxes, was another winning point for FIT.
Take advantage of our comprehensive service to have your vehicle components manufactured safely and reliably as series parts with additive manufacturing at FIT.
|FIT solution:||ADM-V (incl. ADM-D and ADM-E)|
|Scope of services:||Development of the design (ADM-E)
Material qualification (ADM-D)
Additive volume manufacturing incl. traceability (ADM-V)
Production of gauges
Production of dummies for installation control
Quality control and documentation (measurement reports)
Packaging and shipping
|Project duration:||10 weeks|
|Part dimensions:||1,200 x 250 x 480 mm|
|Part weight:||7.0 kg|
|Lot size:||32 pieces|
|Material:||PA 2241 FR|
|Technology:||Selective laser sintering (PBF-LB/P)|
|Post-processing:||Blasting, assembling, plastics welding, milling|
|Quality control:||Tactile 3D coordonate measuring
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