Imaginarium Rapid assisted TATA motors in developing a series of plenum trim assemblies for functional trials of a built vehicle.
The Challenge: To manufacture a small batch of plenum trim assemblies.
Technology used: SLA + Vacuum Casting
Materials: PP 20%Talc (Polypropylene Talc Filled 20%)
Duration: 21 days
TATA motors approached Imaginarium Rapid to manufacture 20 sets of Plenum Trim Assemblies within three weeks that would be used to field test their new sedans.
TATA Motors is an automotive manufacturing company that manufactures passenger cars, trucks, vans, coaches, busses, sports cars, construction equipment, and military vehicles.
Field testing is done to assess the potential safety risks and real-time usage of vehicles before they are sent into large scale production.
As the plenum spans the width of the car, it is generally over 1 meter in length and must be manufactured through vacuum casting in one piece.
To manufacture the plenum, the engineers at Imaginarium Rapid first printed the master in two parts through SLA, which was later joined - using a process developed inhouse for strong bonding of parts - and finished.
For vacuum casting, a silicone mould was cast around the finished SLA master under vacuum and set to cure. Once cured, the mould was cut according to a predetermined plane and the master was removed leaving a cavity. The parts were made in PP 20% Talc (Polypropylene Talc Filled 20%), which mimics the properties of PP Talc filled used in injection moulding.
As this project was on a strict timeline, the first 5 sets were delivered within 10 days of receiving the order and the remaining were delivered over the next 10 days.
The parts were used successfully in-field testing and helped TATA Motors define the exact parameters that would be required for the final output.
In case you were wondering -
The plenum is located in front of the windshield of a car, where the air pressure is above the atmospheric level. It provides a volume of air which is drawn into the car from the chamber through the heater, air-conditioner or vents. Early cars had a vent in front of the windshield and this could be opened by a lever in the cabin to allow air into the cabin. Later cars with a plenum chamber had a grille, which was the opening to the chamber.
To learn more about vacuum casting, click here.