A project between Swinburne University of Technology and Australian software, robotics and automated applications company Tradiebot Industries aims to shake up the automotive collision repair industry using 3D printing and augmented reality (AR).
The collaboration, with co-investment from the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), sees the application of a new in-house formulated polypropylene composite material, developed by Swinburne materials scientists, for the manufacture of replacement plastic bumper bar taps and headlight lugs. In addition, a mobile app is being developed by Tradiebot to enable collision repair technicians to perform quality control on repairs by overlaying an original CAD file via a smart phone, tablet or smart glasses. Users will be able to scan broken plastic parts to generate a replacement or select from a library of pre-designed, 3D printable parts.
Mario Dimovski, CEO of Tradiebot said: “The new 3D printing material and the mobile app development marks a significant step towards the utilisation of new digital tools, additive manufacturing/3D printing and advanced materials in the collision repair industry. Tradiebot has been leading the way in 3D printing innovations in the collision repair industry for the past 4 years and is very excited to bring to market such an innovative solution.”
The material is compatible with automotive grade injection moulded plastic and aims to reduce the number of damaged parts being sent to landfill or waste due to missing tabs and lugs. The material can be welded directly onto bumpers or headlight bases and is said to posses the correct bonding properties, strength and toughness required by automotive quality standards.
Dr Mostafa Nikzad, Swinburne materials scientist, who led the development commented: “It has been great working alongside an innovative project partner like Tradiebot. The initial idea to develop the material and how best to provide access to it for the industry is really exciting. I like the idea of using a mobile scanning app and creating your own replacement parts for printing. We are also now planning a second phase of this project that involves embedding self-healing capabilities into the material in a world-first.”
Trials are currently underway and Tradiebot aims to have the material and app on the market early next year.