Cars, whether they’re classic models or newer more contemporary designs, are extremely collectible, and have been ever since they were first released onto the roads, pretty much! Especially in terms of classic collectibles, like the unmistakable 1989 Nissan Pao or the sleek Nissan 300ZX Targa, classic car collectors are keen to keep their investments (because face it, that’s what they are!) looking brand new. Not just for a better resale price later on down the road, but because these collectors want to preserve the majesty of these original classic cars, and keep them looking as fresh as the day they first rolled off the factory line.
Now, historically this has been a bugbear for classic car collectors, as if you wanted to replace parts of your classic car it would take you hours, if not days, trudging through junkyards to find the replacement parts. That leaves far too much room for error, let alone simply not finding what you need! However a new technology has been designed, giving classic car collectors some respite.
In the past, car-makers had to press sheet metal against specially created dies which churned out the assembly-ready car parts, but this process was overly expensive to produce such inexpensive parts; sadly, since its inception, the method has been largely unchanged.
Coming back to the present, Nissan has devised a new and much more efficient method of producing their car parts, one which gets rid of dies and stamping machines completely! Nissan calls it Dual-Sided Dieless Forming, and it offers a compelling alternative to the intense-investment industry norm.
So What is Dual-Sided Dieless Forming?
Whereas this process originally involved pressing sheets of metal against pre-designed dies to produce the myriad of car parts, Nissan’s new process removes the stamping machine altogether replacing it with two robots who work together to produce the car parts desired.
Almost like a futuristic dance, the two robots sync their movements together and work precisely on one piece of sheet metal at a time. Tipped with diamond-tipped tools developed by the Nissan team, these robot arms can shape the metal sheets to whichever programmed design is required, creating complex concave shapes that would be impossible to recreate with just one robot at work.
When Was this Process Conceived?
This method didn’t just appear overnight, it has been five years in the making from Nissan;
“About five years ago we started thinking about ways of forming sheet metal without relying on dies” said Keigo Oyamada, Assistant Manager at Nissan’s Vehicle manufacturing Element Engineering Department. “Our goal was to solve the cost issues related to creating dies for small-volume production. We want to put this technology to use to create spare parts for old models whose dies have already been thrown out, or potentially even to let people order custom parts from Nissan.”
How Does this Work?
The two robots create a 3D scan of the existing car part, this is then used to ‘teach’ the robots to build that particular part, though a small amount of human guidance is still required. This process will give Nissan the ability to create car parts that haven’t been made for decades, simply by scanning existing parts. Amazing!
Not only will this give Nissan the chance to create older car parts for their collectible car community, but it will do it much quicker too! It used to take up to one whole year for dies to be designed and manufactured at the Nissan plant. With their new Dual-Sided Dieless Forming technique, this waiting time has been brought down to under a week! Not only has the time-frame been reduced, but their ability to produce a whole range of large and small car parts is makes these robots a wholly skilled and efficient new member of the Nissan manufacturing team.
At the moment, Nissan plans to use this new technology to produce replacement parts for the cars that they no longer sell, in order to maintain the lifespan of these cars for their customers. Looking ahead to the future though, Nissan see’s huge potential for creating custom parts for Nissan drivers who want to add something unique and personal to their models in the future.
One step at a time, Nissan is bringing the art of car manufacturing into the future, making is more cost-effective and efficient for all.