Aston Martin Accelerates the Automotive Design Process
Design departments within all manufacturers continually seek ways to improve their in-house design process. The design team at Aston Martin has discovered that cutting-edge design and 3D printing tools are not only extremely enabling, but also save time.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Aston Martin is an iconic British automotive brand. With its headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, it has transformed from a small-scale manufacturer of specialist sports cars to a renowned luxury automotive marquee.
Aston Martin boasts a very impressive model range – including the Vanquish, DB9 and One-77 supercar – all of which express the brand's core values of power, beauty and soul.
Housed within a state-of-the-art design studio, opened in 2007, is Aston Martin's design team. This niche and highly flexible team consists of 50 members across a range of disciplines. Although each has their own role to play within the design process, they are by no means tunneled towards one particular aspect.
For instance, individuals in the sculpting and digital teams will readily collaborate around a 3D model on a computer screen drawing on one another's skills and expertise. The creative and production teams within the Aston Martin Design Digital Group studio were previously using separate CAS tools.
By working so closely together and often on each other's models however, it made sense to standardise to one tool, Autodesk Alias. This has resulted in a seamless flow of surfaces all the way from the designer's initial sketch to production. It has not only accelerated the design process, but has also greatly improved efficiencies.
Art to part with realism
A mantra often heard within the Digital Group at the Aston Martin Design Studio is 'from art to part with realism'. This phrase captures a very detailed design process, but helps to explain how a design goes from being inside the designer's head to realistically visualised on the computer screen.
That same design data is then used to prototype a part through the use of advanced 3D printing technologies, whether it's a small-scale part printed in-house or a full-scale component such as an entire deck lid printed through a bureau.
From the first sketch at the start of the design process – produced digitally on a Wacom tablet or imported from paper into Autodesk Alias – through to digital validation on the computer screen and then physical validation with a prototype part, all members of the team play a role in approving the design. This means that any issues can be spotted immediately preventing costly changes further down the line in the tooling and manufacturing stages.
An example of this is the design of a wheel. Previously, it would be sculpted by hand. This process could take up to six months before a one-off wheel design was up to the standard where the geometry could be sent to the engineering department. Today, the designer only has to draw a segment of the wheel on a Wacom tablet and Alias will mimic that section all the way round the wheel.
That data can then be used to produce a photo-realistic visualisation to share with others in the team and can also be sent to the 3D printing machine to produce a prototype. This means that literally the design can go from 'art' one day to 'part' the very next.
Similarly, the design team recently had to create a new deck lid for one of the cars when the aero changed following the installation of a new engine. This new deck lid with larger tail flip was designed in Alias and tested aerodynamically in the software before a full-scale part was rapid-prototyped and metallised.
It was then fitted to the car and taken to the race track to be tested. This was all carried out within two weeks of releasing the design data.
Technology enabling innovation
For the Aston Martin design team there is no question that all this technology is incredibly enabling. In design review meetings, designers can now sketch quick ideas straight into the Autodesk SketchBook Pro app on their iPads.
This design tool will also automatically mirror the lines and curves on one half of the car to the other.
The resulting 2D sketch can be imported straight into Autodesk Alias with no misinterpretation of the designer's intent along the way.
Aston Martin has recently installed a large screen, high definition projector coupled with surround sound into a room where designers, as well as other members in the organisation can come together and interact digitally with the designs.
Through photorealistic visualisations and animations, the latest automotive models or concept designs can be fully experienced before they reach production. Aston Martin's design team embraces and readily invests in advanced technologies.
This desire to drive forward is fuelled by the passion the designers and the company as a whole have for the beautiful cars they produce. As the brand now enters its second century, Aston Martin continues to honour its rich heritage while pushing new boundaries.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.