The Malaysia Automotive Institute has opened its design centre in Sungai Choh, Rawang, near the headquarters of Perodua, which it has partnered with in the centre’s development. The aim of the design centre, MAI says, is to enable the local automotive industry to be able to handle simultaneous engineering between manufacturers and their vendors during the development stages of a new model.

The Rawang design centre is home to a variety of hardware including a fused deposited 3D printer, a selective laser sintering 3D printer, along with hardware and software for augmented reality simulations and a high-performance computing server, among others. The institute is encouraging automotive OEMs to make use of its facilities, in order to expedite the design processes in the lead to a car model’s completion.

Though no pricing structure was revealed, MAI said that all participants are charged for usage of the facilities on a ‘pay per use’ basis, and will receive a 50% government subsidy. Meanwhile, parts vendors will be given ‘hand-holding’ guidance in interactions with the OEMs during the design phase.

“We can design better with these facilities. These can reduce development time for a new model, especially with the use of AR (augmented reality),” said Perodua CEO and president Datuk Aminar Rashid.

In the case of Perodua, the time and monetary savings afforded by the use of these facilities is considerable. The design stage for a full model change can be quickened from three years to 18 months with the use of virtual reality (VR) methods, said Perodua chief designer Muhamad Zamuren bin Musa.

This will enables a cost saving of RM3-4 million from an estimated RM15-20 million typically spent on the design stage of a new model, and it also saves on manpower. Where up to 15 modellers are tasked with design stage work traditionally, VR enables the use of just six modellers.