Pioneer develops AR-enabled car navigation system with Stratasys 3D printing

By creating prototypes with an in-house 3D printer, we were able to cut down product development cost by approximately 50 percent.Yasuyuki Tobishima, Pioneer Corporation

Spurred by their dedication to introduce innovative high-tech products to the market quickly, Pioneer Corporation turned to Stratasys 3D printing to build the world’s first automotive GPS navigation system with a head-up display.

Named Cyber Navi AR-HUD, the unit was designed to be placed above the driver’s seat where augmented reality (AR) information is projected on a small screen in front of the driver, overlaying the real scenery to track real-time road conditions and routes. The unit was specifically designed to reduce distraction during driving as it subconsciously limits the driver from looking down at the console where a GPS unit is typically placed.

But the team ran into several challenges during the development phase, one of which was ensuring that the device had to stay as still as possible for clear projection. This was unlike regular navigation systems that stay in the console.

As Pioneer outsourced their prototyping work, there were multiple prototypes of similar parts from each design team for different testing purposes. This led to high outsourcing costs and prolonged lead time because of the numerous communication and shipping time between different parties.

Quality and time are our two biggest challenges. It is important to validate design concepts against product principles for novel products. At the same time, it is crucial to minimize the validation time so that the product can be introduced to the market as quick as possible.Yasuyuki Tobishima

To expedite the product validation process, Pioneer invested in their first 3D printer, an Objet® Eden250V from Stratasys for in-house prototyping. 3D printing offered a new approach – design teams can now consolidate and validate designs using virtual simulation before 3D printing them. This enables all parts to be optimally designed and positioned well.

The first AR-HUD prototype was 3D printed within a day and they realized that they needed to rework the outer cast design to steady the device on the sun visor. An iteration was made immediately and the second print fitted perfectly.

By creating the prototyping with an in-house 3D printer, we were able to cut down the development cost by approximately 50 percent.Yasuyuki Tobishima

The product development success of the AR unit led to Pioneer acquiring two additional Objet Eden250V, as they explored high-mix low-volume production and customization of advanced applications. The use of 3D printed parts instead of using PowerPoint slides or concept drawings during sales meeting, have also led to much better closing of deals because of the effective communication.

3D printing is easy to use, serving as an effective communication tool and comprehensive solution for prototyping and functional testing. It has given us more than we asked for. Yasuyuki Tobishima

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