Coventry University – complex structures and shapes
Students graduating in automotive, transport and product design from Coventry University in June 2009 displayed a wide variety of final projects; from hydrogen-powered super cars to electric commuters.
With eco awareness a clear theme, imaginative use of new materials and technologies was demonstrated. And no more so than with Matt Baggley’s ‘Reaction’ car – a shark-nosed open two-seater, symbolizing the chemical reaction when the hydrogen and oxygen combine in its fuel cell to produce electricity to power the car.
Working with 3T RPD Ltd in Newbury, Matt was able to produce an aesthetically pleasing 3-dimensional model of his design using their plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) process. Using Selective Laser Sintering, the flexibility of this innovative technology meant fewer boundaries in the design process, enabling him to incorporate complex structures and shapes that could not have been modelled using any other technique. The speed and versatility of plastic AM allowed him to design the car using Alias Studio tools and, with minimal changes being required to the 3D CAD data, he was able to meet his tight deadline.
Matt spent his internship at Rolls-Royce and was inspired by the company’s meticulous way of working. “I wanted to apply this to alternative-fuel vehicles, not combustion-engine models, whilst creating new experiences for the driver generating different pleasures and emotions from using the new fuel” he explains. In the ‘Reaction’, the swirling pipes on each side represent the turbulent flow of the hydrogen as it mixes with the oxygen.
Matt continues “The need for alternately fuelled vehicles is forever increasing due to the reduced availability of fossil fuels. Currently, there are many variations in alternate fuelled vehicles from hybrid types like the Prius, to the Hydrogen powered Honda FCX. However, they all seem to be promoting a culture which is environmentally friendly, but hide their technology and are all closely based on their internal combustion counterparts both visually and in their use. We are entering a new era in transport design; alternatively fuelled vehicles are on the agenda. There is a need and opportunity to change the tradition of emulating internal combustion designs and give the new generation a character of their own. The ‘Reaction concept’ demonstrates ways in which alternate fuels can talk in a different manner both visually and in their use.”
Furthermore, the cost-effective nature of the plastic AM process enabled Matt to generate his model within his project budget. “To manufacture certain parts of my model would have been high and the leadtime long if I hadn’t had plastic AM available to me” says Matt.