Vehicle Development, Simplified: The RapidFit Smart Cube
Using a combination of 3D-printed parts and a fully modular approach, RapidFit’s smart cubing system empowers automotive brands to speed up their engineering and development process. Whether that’s for an Aston Martin DB11 or the iconic London taxicab. Discover the future of vehicle development, as seen through the eyes of RapidFit head Filip Dehing.
Where does the concept of the Smart Cube come from?
To answer that, we need to step back for a look at the industry we’re serving. A study by Merrill Lynch looking at the automotive market in 1999-2014 came to an interesting finding: it was the brands with the highest replacement rates which commanded the highest market share. In other words, if you want to sell more cars, you need to combine a great design with a really short time-to-market, hence speed up the development process. And if you don’t want that to encroach on your profit margins, it wouldn’t hurt if you could decrease the tooling costs too.
The need to bring newer developments to the market consistently, at lower costs, means that the automotive industry is under pressure to make the vehicle development process leaner, faster and more flexible. That’s the need which the Smart Cube was made to address.
What’s different about the RapidFit Smart Cube?
The key characteristic of the Smart Cube is that it’s fully modular. You can easily exchange and update separate modules — anything from a dashboard to a handle — and keep the tool up-to-date through new CAD revisions and design maturation. A traditionally-constructed cube, on the other hand, is essentially a single assembly of milled aluminum. Not only is it extremely expensive, it’s also intrinsically costly to modify. Our Smart Cube on the other hand, enables such modifications at a low direct and indirect cost, thanks to the modularity and printed end elements. Such updates can be performed ‘offline’ as the cube stays at the customer’s disposition.
That’s why the Smart Cube is a real game-changer. It allows our customers to start using the cube much earlier in the development process and to continue using it throughout production. They can update parts as they go along, without losing time or money in reconstructing the entire cube. One of our customers is the London Taxi Company based in Coventry, UK. When the company recently relaunched the taxicab as a fully-electric vehicle, the project was typical of the electrical vehicle development world — throughput time was extremely short.
"For the London Taxi Company, the Smart Cube was instrumental in bringing a new vehicle concept to the market in record time. My team at RapidFit is thrilled to be among the enablers for the relaunch of such an iconic car."
Filip Dehing, RapidFit Managing Director
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