Daimler had been searching for a method to increase speed of Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) development by use of 3D printed functional prototypes for the mechanical connection of the combustion engine to the vehicle body. This is usually done with engine mounts and engine brackets out of aluminum or reinforced plastic.
However, initially all 3D printing technologies, materials and simulation methods proved not to be sufficient to fulfill all requirements in regard to temperature, static load and dynamics of this demanding application.
BASF partnered with Daimler to develop a new class of reinforced materials beyond existing PA12s. This material Ultrasint PA6 MF, which is printed using selective laser sintering, has potential to perform in this application, and the first sample prints confirmed this potential. In combination with BASF’s advanced Ultrasim simulation NVH properties of injection molded PA66-GF50 could be demonstrated, employing topology optimized inner geometry without any change of the outer geometry.
Development of this part, which now is a beacon of performance in 3D printed polymer parts, needed high engagement of all parties involved. Various challenges had to be overcome, but now Daimler has a validated method to increase speed of future development by several weeks, plus significant cost reductions by skipping one generation of prototype mold.