Blackwelder, P., Chang, W., and Lohr, J., "Minimizing Resource Investment in Prototyping Using Computer Aided Design Techniques and Computer Numerically Controlled Manufacturing," SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-0373, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-0373.
The latest generation of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) technology enables cost and time effective product development by minimizing the time and expertise required to fabricate precision parts. The North Carolina State University (NCSU) EcoCAR 2 team used specialized Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques and a CNC water-jet to produce a mounting system to install a custom series-hybrid drivetrain into a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.The team of engineering students was able to overcome a lack of resources and machining experience by leveraging the capabilities of CAD and CNC to create quality components. Complex 3D designs were broken down into 2D shapes that were precision cut from inexpensive metal plate. The design of these parts featured slot and tab interfaces that enabled parts to be self-locating and were implemented in a way that only allowed parts to be assembled in the correct orientation. The precision fit afforded by the water-jet had the additional benefit of simplifying the welding process by eliminating the need for external work holding.This method effectively produced physical products from CAD models with minimal variance. The NCSU EcoCAR 2 team's combination of CAD modeling techniques and CNC can streamline the iterative refinement process for a broad range of prototyping applications and small-batch manufacturing.