Daihatsu opens the era of mass customization

Copen owners will be able to customize the Effect Skin design by changing parameters for truly one-of-a kind patterns and textures.

Minneapolis, Minnesota — June 26, 2016 — Automotive customization through 3D printing has been predicted for a while now, but Daihatsu may be the first automakers to deliver on that prediction. The company has been collaborating with 3D printing firm Stratasys to bring mass customization to market.

In the last three years, 3D printing has expanded from prototyping to factory tooling to short run production, with the expectation that it would be used also for mass customization of consumer products. Based in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, Daihatsu partnered with 3D printing solutions company Stratasys, Kota Nezu from industrial design company Znug Design and 3D creator Sun Junjie to turn the vision into reality. Designers created 15 “Effect Skins,” intricate geometric and organic patterns in 10 different colorus that are 3D printed using Stratasys Fortus 3D printers. Customers can adjust the parameters of the designs themselves, exponentially increasing the numbers of options and allowing “one-off” customization for each consumer.

The skins may be ordered for front and rear bumpers and fenders. They are 3D printed on Fortus Production 3D Printers from Stratasys using ASA thermoplastic which is very durable, UV resistant and aesthetic.

“What would have taken two to three months to develop can now be produced in two weeks,” says Osamu Fujishita, General Manager, Corporate Planning Department, Brand DNA Office, Daihatsu Motor.

The traditional manufacturing method of reducing costs is mass production of identical parts to take advantage of economies of scale. But this Effect Skins project illustrates the power of 3D printing when it comes to creating on-demand product parts with high customizability and rich design properties.

The Effect Skin project is being tested in 2016 in select markets with plans for commercialization in early 2017. Check out a video on the the project in the player below. 



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