DECS GmbH are specialists in the design and manufacture of interior and exterior trim composite components for the automotive industry. Reference customers include Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes, and Porsche. DECS GmbH embraces technology and firmly believes in process optimization. It is a combination of these factors that helped their latest project, the Artega GT succeed, and cause a stir in the automotive world.
The Artega GT is a mid-engined, rear wheel drive, high-performance sports car designed by Henrik Fisker, the man responsible for the much celebrated Aston Martin Vantage and the sweeping lines of the BMW Z8. The two-seater GT has an aluminum space frame and carbon fiber reinforced body. Providing the power is a Volkswagen-sourced 3.6L V6 engine reaching 60mph in less than five secs.
Within the framework of this project, DECS GmbH contributed to the manufacture of the front bonnet, tailgate, and roof. Ulrich Krämer, Managing Director of DECS GmbH explains how the project started. “Artega originally contacted us because we have been involved in a number of projects with other prestige automotive clients and possess the skill and knowledge required for the development of composite components. For the initial pilot project, we first created five parts using a prototype tool. We were then invited to participate in the second phase in which we produced a pre-series set of tooling for the front bonnet and tailgate for testing. After successful pre-series testing, we now manufacture the complete suite of production parts for the front bonnet, tailgate, and roof.”
DECS GmbH produces its polyurethane-based composite components using a honeycomb core. This is especially relevant in the development of automotive interiors as the potential weight reduction is extremely attractive to car manufacturers. Natural fiber-reinforced polyurethanes are being used more and more in the automotive industry and it is now possible to produce parts with wall thicknesses of 1.5 – 2.0 mm – depending on the unit weight of the natural fiber mat used. These end products weigh about 45% less than products created using conventional injection molding materials.
One example of process optimization is the use of Huber & Grimme gantry milling machines, which are equipped with efficient two shaft spindles and tandem work-tables for multi-axis part trimming. Once the body panels are removed from the tool, they are placed onto jigs and fixtures for part trimming and additional CAM operations. All 5-axis operations are programmed using VISI Machining from Vero Software and posted using a Siemens 840D controller. Due to the complex nature of multi-axis machining, NC programs are also simulated prior to running on the shop floor. The simulation checks against the physical machine limits and ensures process-safe tool paths.
The relevant jigs and fixtures are also designed using VISI software and produced at DECS. “VISI is the ideal tool for the construction of the trimming jigs”, explains Krämer. “One advantage is the ability to constantly switch between solid and surface technologies. This is vitally important to us and allows us to follow a flexible design path. VISI provides interfaces to all the significant data formats such as CATIA, UG, Pro/E, STEP, IGES, and SAT and this allows us to handle our clients native CAD data with confidence.”
VISI has been in use at DECS GmbH since 2005 when the software was provided as a solution for simultaneous 5-axis milling to solve a problem that involved the complicated trimming of plastic parts with undercut positions that could not be could be processed with water-jets.