Top 7 Errors in Automotive Prototype Part Design You Need to Avoid

Design of Automotive Prototype Parts

When you invest time and resources into designing automotive prototype parts, you want to ensure everything goes according to plan. However, as we all know, there are often some hiccups along the way, and sometimes these can lead to significant challenges. As a professional automotive prototype parts manufacturing facility, we’re aware of the common mistakes that can occur during the design process and the impact they can have on the final product. In this article, we’ll share some of the most common errors we’ve seen to help you avoid them and ensure smooth progress in your automotive prototype parts design.

1. Designing thin features or walls less than the recommended thickness

For standard resolution additive manufacturing (3D printing), features/walls should not be less than 0.060″ (1.5mm) thick.
For high resolution machines, the minimum recommended thickness is 0.040″ (1mm).
Thin features like raised logos, small text, knife-edge tapers etc. may not print properly or be missing in the final part.

2. Converting CAD model to STL with low resolution

This results in heavily faceted surfaces instead of smooth curves on the printed part.
To get a smooth finish, the edge-to-edge distance between facets in the STL should be less than 0.020″ (0.5mm).

Prototype Automotive Part Design

3. CAD model has unstitched surfaces instead of solids

Unstitched surfaces can cause errors when converting the model to STL format.
Ensure the original CAD model has watertight, solid geometry.

4. Enclosed hollow spaces that trap support material

Any enclosed void will get filled with support material that cannot be removed after printing.
Consider designing the part to be solid or adding holes to remove trapped material.

5. Clearance Considerations in Automotive Prototype Part Design

Insufficient clearance for assemblies and mating featuresAdditive manufacturing has higher tolerances (+/- 0.005″ or 0.127mm) compared to injection molding.
Allow 0.015″-0.020″ (0.38-0.51mm) clearance between mating parts to account for this.

Automotive Prototype Part Design

6. Attempting to design functional living hinges

Most additive materials are too rigid to allow living hinges to work as intended.
Some flexible materials like Duraform EX may work, but living hinges are generally not recommended.

7. Unit mismatch between CAD and STL file

Double check that the units (inches/mm) are correct in the exported STL file properties.
The search results emphasize paying close attention to factors like feature sizes, surface quality, enclosed voids, assembly clearances and material limitations when designing parts for additive manufacturing or 3D printing to avoid common prototyping pitfalls.

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