Having a vintage car is a huge joy. Taking care of it is a nice hobby to have, but it does pose several big challenges. Manufacturers often don’t pay enough attention and resources into making replacement parts for discontinued models. But that could change, because now Nissan taught a robot to make car parts out of sheet steel. The famous Japanese car manufacturer is calling it a “breakthrough”.
Manufacturing popular replacement parts is easy. You can throw a lot of labour, money and robots into that kind of process, because all the products you make will be sold. However, making parts in smaller batches is kind of tricky and does not make a lot of economical sense. Now Nissan created a new robotic system, known as dual-sided dieless forming, which involves two robots working from opposite sides of a steel sheet, using diamond-coated tools to gradually shape the steel into useful parts. Previously this kind of manufacturing method was considered to be impractical, because it is hard to make two robots operate synchronously.
Dual-sided dieless forming is not entirely new, but Nissan may be the first to actually commericalize the process. It has a lot of advantages. Because no stamping and forming dies are needed, the manufacturing process requires very little in a shape of set-up. Because robots work from boths side, they can use different dies, forming a more complex shape. This allows making replacement parts easily, quickly and with high precision, while not exceeding what would be considered sound in terms of the price.
Nissan managed to develop software to control both robots at the same time with high degree of precision. This allows creating detailed convex and concave shapes. Surface quality of the parts is great, because tools are diamond-coated and glide nicely without lubrication. In fact, it is still rather early in the developmental stage and Nissan is already getting very good results. Nissan is definitely thinking of commercializing this system – it stated that it plans to continue pursuing advancements in mass production, but will hone its low-production manufacturing techniques as well.
But let’s be real for a second – we are only talking about sheet metal parts. A lot of other parts, especially the mechanicals, are still going to pose problems when it comes to finding rare pieces. It is still a great achievement though – getting original parts straight from the manufacturer is the ideal option.