Briggs Buick GMC is Proud that 3D Rapid Prototyping Fast Tracks GM Fuel Efficiency Gains

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Finished parts for prototypes and concepts come from powder and liquid in just hours

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Deep inside the GM Design building an elite team has been fashioning components, intricate sub assembles and entire scale model cars from highly specialized three-dimensional rapid prototyping manufacturing equipment. The sales team at Briggs Buick GMC - the premiere GM dealer in Manhattan, Kansas - think this is very cool.

The Rapid Prototype Laboratory features two fabrication processes – selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereo lithography apparatus (SLA). Both processes build up finished products from raw material in layers. The entire process is quite amazing and has helped GM quite a bit over the last couple decades, allowing them to quickly test ideas before spending money on them.

“Think of it as the reverse of slicing off cold-cuts at the deli counter, where each slice is created and joined back to the whole,” said Dave Bolognino, director of GM Design Fabrication Operations.

“RP technology eliminates tooling plus it permits the production and testing of multiple iterations of a part or assembly with superb precision at little to no incremental expense. It’s a game-changer of epic proportion.”

3D rapid prototype technology has resulted in dramatic efficiencies in GM wind tunnel testing across GM’s entire car and truck lineup.

“Thanks to the rapid pace of production from the RP Laboratory, GM’s aerodynamics lab has been to double its capacity of testing scale models over the past two years, contributing to improved fuel efficiency on future GM vehicles,” said Bolognino.

GM Design has been on the leading edge of rapid prototyping technology for nearly two decades and is highly regarded as a beta tester and innovator of new materials, formulas and processes by its supplier partners, 3D Systems Corp. and Materialise. They have learned a lot over the years and they continue to innovate in exciting new ways as seen in the recent vehicles they have been designed and producing for the world market.

“It’s a way to reduce product development time, save costs, and give designers more options,” Bolognino said. “I don’t see any end sight for General Motors use of this technology.”

Local residents who want to see the results - the new 2011 Buick and GMC line-up - are encouraged to stop in at Briggs Buick GMC, the leading GM dealer in Manhattan, Kansas and surrounding areas.

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Eric Giroux
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