The system is being developed under a Government-funded initiative called Foresight Vehicle aimed at keeping Britain ahead in automotive high technology.
“The need to meet the demand for personalised products, particularly within the automotive sector, is growing increasingly important,” says Dr Richard Hague, head of the Rapid Manufacturing Research Group (RMRG).
The research project has been running for 18 months at Loughborough University but it will be three years before engineers have the first machine ready. Similar technology is in use now by Formula One teams.
“When fully developed, this type of system will help UK manufacturing industry win back some of the business that is being lost to Asia and the Far East,” says Hague.
The machines are being designed especially for use in small workshops so the entire process can take place at a dealership.
Parts such as seats, steering wheels, gear knobs, hand brakes and dashboard inserts such as air ducts could be made in this way. RMRG says there will be benefits in terms of comfort and safety.