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09-21-2007

Materialise: Components for Belgian Solar Car

Materialise N.V., Leuven, Belgium, has built various components for the Belgian solar car “Umicar Infinity” that participates in the Panasonic world Solar Challenge in October in Australia. Materialise, the leader in rapid prototyping and manufacturing (RP&M), has built a series of crucial functional components for the suspension (wheel house to keep together two components) and the wheels (custom-made sealers) via Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). FDM is an rapid prototyping technology (RP) laying down thermoplastic material, which is melted by a heated extrusion nozzle. In a similar manner to stereolithography, the model is built up from layers as the plastic hardens immediately after extrusion from the nozzle. Since the materials being used are plastics like polycarbonate and ABS, the eventual models are extremely suited for functional tests and for end production.

The solar car is a prime example of personalized manufacturing. It is a one-off car of which every single component is custom-built for the Solar Challenge.

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