For some companies, a shift toward Industry 4.0 means scaling up to mass production of the same goods or near-identical lines of products. For others, industrial advancements present a potential for greater customization and manufacturing products.
One such company is Paravan GmbH – a German company developing and supplying independent and autonomous vehicle drive systems. Paravan has been a leading international provider of vehicle customization for people with disabilities since 2005 as part of a wider mobility concept based around modifying vehicles, lifts, cartridge lifts, and ramp systems.
Their solutions are specifically tailored to individual needs, incorporating features like wheelchair access, loading systems, rotating seating, and many more accessibility assets for safety and comfort. Paravan’s focus is on providing personalized vehicle components that enable one of the most precious things there is mobile freedom.
3D Printing for Accessibility
“With the BigRep ONE, we can quickly and inexpensively print complex components that are either impossible or very difficult to produce by machine,” said Mario Kütt, Head of Mechanical Construction at Paravan. “Now we print a component that we had previously milled, thereby saving around 75% of the costs.”
Paravan uses a BigRep ONE 3D printer to produce parts for its road-approved, safety-related industrial applications, including its first prototype for a revolutionary new steering mechanism. Unlike most cars, this Paravan steering wheel is electronic instead of directly connected to the steering column.
“Together with a 3D scanner our construction engineers work with [the BigRep 3D printer] daily,” said Paravan’s Alexander Nerz. “Of course, it’s great to be able to quickly and efficiently build designs overnight. To be able to install the piece into the customer’s vehicle the very next day. It’s a really great tool.”
The nature of Paravan’s customized vehicle business means the ability to do rapid large-format prototyping is important. With just a clean CAD file, Paravan’s engineers can design functional parts specific to a user’s needs and often produce a printed part within one day. Custom-fitting vehicles become a cost-efficient, fast process. “We have more pieces that are new than those that we have had for a long time,” says Mr. Kütt, who produces at least two prototypes per week using the BigRep ONE.
For customers who have difficulty grasping the controls with their hands, for example, Paravan has been developing custom grips that enable drivers to keep a steadier hold on the gear stick or steering mechanism. They take a mold of the individual’s handgrip and create a custom grip with flexible, material for simplified handling. Using a 3D scanner, they convert a 3D scan of the final model into a CAD file. After refining the design, they are ready to print the prototype on the BigRep ONE.
The Right Materials for Innovation
As the printed parts are often end-use, placed directly into Paravan’s custom vehicles, post-processing their prints is an important part of Paravan’s process. “Currently we are only using PRO HT filament for production,” said Mr. Kütt. “Mainly for its high-temperature resistance, which is necessary for the vehicles, especially in summer.”
Rather than painting the pieces smooth, which Paravan finds can be time-consuming, they prefer to lightly sand the printed parts and prime them, creating the finish.
As Paravan continues to innovate in the automotive industry, BigRep’s 3D printing technology will support the company to explore the potential of autonomous driving.
For businesses on the cutting edge of automotive technologies, being able to swiftly design and print prototypes allows them to remain frontrunners in their fields and provide, particularly in Paravan’s case, life-changing products and services to customers.