Applus+ constantly strives for innovation in its operations, applying the latest tools to offer the best service. We have compiled several examples of how the use of 3D makes our work more efficient and contributes to the excellence of our services.
Subjective experimentation through virtual reality: an essential tool for future mobility research
An essential aspect of the development of the self-driving car of the future is the move from the concept of “driver” to “passenger”. Now, the driver will have a more passive role as the vehicle will be driving itself.
The Human Factors area of Applus+ is already working on this transition. A clear example is a project we worked on with other partners in the sector: the European research project, SUaaVE, which looked into the factors that influence the acceptance of the self-driving car of the future based on subjective experiment evaluations through virtual spaces.
The use of virtual reality applied to driving simulators makes it possible to recreate specific future traffic scenarios, such as urban or country roads or expressways, with a high level of immersion. We can integrate all those elements that are relevant to the research into these scenarios, such as recreating the performance of self-driving systems and observing how users interact with them.
The ability of virtual reality to generate "believable" scenarios and situations so users can have as real of an experience as possible is essential to obtain reliable and relevant information and integrate it into the development of future self-driving functions, focused on the characteristics and preferences of the end-user.
3D virtual learning: the revolution for vehicle inspector training
At Applus+, the adoption of new technologies allows us to be able to evolve our services and, in turn, respond to the needs and challenges of both our clients and employees. This is why, together with REM EXPERIENCE, we have developed a 3D inspection system that allows us to simulate the inspection of any type of vehicle without the need to physically inspect it. This is a virtual process that gives us flexibility and agility and cuts costs at the same time.
The application has two modes: training and evaluation. The training mode provides a guided simulation of a vehicle inspection with descriptions of each inspection method contextualised to the inspector's location.
The assessment mode shows a vehicle with random defects and mandatory tasks that need to be carried out. The learner has to perform the simulated inspection using the same tools that are available in the real world. Once the test is completed, the system evaluates the exercise.
This tool offers a perfect complement to traditional training based on reading and watching videos. On the one hand, it facilitates self-learning and self-assessment, turning the application into a personal challenge for continuous improvement. On the other hand, as the application is valid both for initial training and for reviewing previously-learned concepts, it allows for optimal, ongoing training.
Testing 3D printed materials: the most exhaustive validation processes
Did you know that 3D-printed parts are currently tested more rigorously than those manufactured by any other means? Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, can provide exceptional flexibility and cut costs. However, it also requires rigorous materials testing such as metallographic investigations, bearing testing, high cycle fatigue, fracture toughness testing and crack growth rate.
The machine builders need to test materials to ensure the new 3D printers will be able to meet the customers’ demands. These tests are carried out in several phases:
3D part manufacturers install their printers and run a Screening Test Programme, which consists of sending samples to be tested and receiving their physical specifications to determine if the machine meets their expectations and requirements.
Then comes the Process Qualification (PQ) phase. The objective here is to validate the production process and achieve replicable and consistent results through a large number of tests. The aim is to avoid deviations and obtain stable, isotropic material properties with as little variation as possible.
As soon as they achieve the desired results with minimal or no deviation, part manufacturers move on to the First Part Qualification (FPQ) phase. They can now start designing and printing real parts. For successful verification, cut-up parts will be tested as well as individual samples from the same production run. A typical FPQ phase for aerospace parts includes mechanical tests such as tensile, fatigue and fracture toughness tests.
The Serial Production phase usually includes both visual and dimensional inspections and non-destructive testing (NDT) such as digital radiography and surface crack location. At the same time, a small number of samples must be printed in each production run, which will be subjected to additional mechanical (tensile and hardness) and analytical (microscopic sections) tests.
At Applus+, we have extensive experience in the aerospace and defence sector and we know the challenges associated with the 3D printing processes. We have developed a suite of testing services to support additive manufacturing’s entire value chain.
Solutions Through Digital Twin and 3D Imaging
Applus+ uses Digital Twins to support its clients all over the world in its efforts to maintain their assets efficient and generate valuable insights. Digital Twin is the process of capturing the physical world into a digital environment and using it for functions such as inspection, condition monitoring and assessment, engineering or consultancy.
This solution allows the capture of high-resolution inspection of a client’s asset and reproduce a high-resolution photogrammetry model. This 3D copy model (so-called Digital Twin) can then be inspected and the assets can be checked through virtual reality remotely, on a desktop or tablet. The model can be used for a range of disciplines, including integrity assessment and can be used by a client to plan remediation and conduct virtual site visits.
The photogrammetry can be captured by UAV drones equipped with LIDAR technology, making it possible to display and track physical wear on infrastructure, among other things, and digitally visualise the inspection of the asset.
This solution also offers custom reporting for direct interfacing into the client’s database, further improving efficiency in service delivery. Some of the advantages of the use of digital twins are savings of costs, remote access to the information 24 hours a day, and greater efficiency, productivity and speed.