Acura to start serial production of NSX supercar in late April

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 21, 2016

Acura has revealed that it will start the serial production of the Acura NSX supercar. It is expected to start sometime in late April and will be done at the company’s Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC). Customer deliveries are expected to begin after. The PMC is designed to be a state-of-the-art mix of technology and people. By being able to blend technological innovation and human craftsmanship, PMC is able to use a new method when it comes to constructing the vehicle, assembly, paint, and quality assurance.

The goal is to make sure that the company is able to give customers its DNA of Precision Crafted Performance. In addition, the PMC will also be exclusively manufacturing the NSX supercar. Similar to the NSX, the supercar will be manufactured in the PMC in-house. It will follow what is known as clean-sheet development. What this means is that the facility was designed based on the distinct Multi-Material Body of the NSX as well as its aluminum-intensive space-frame design.

PMC has also been optimized in order to meet the low-volume production of the high-performance specialty vehicles. The engineering large project leader of the PMC is Clement D’ Souza, who was also tasked to oversee the creation of this facility. According to Mr. D’ Souza, all the hard work and innovative thinking that went to the construction of this hi-tech facility have allowed the company to meet its goal of making a supercar in the U.S.

Due to the challenging spirit and the extraordinary passion enjoyed by its highly skilled associates, Mr. D’ Souza continued, the company was not only able to develop and erect from the ground a supercar factory, but it also did the same with the Acura NSX supercar. The PMC was designed to do two things. The first is to improve the method in manufacturing low-volume specialty cars. The second is to explore possible new ideas for the next-generation Acura especially when it comes to quality and craftsmanship.

As a result of the work done by PMC associates with regards to the manufacturing process of the NSX, the company was able to apply for a total of 12 U.S. patents. An estimated 100 associates not only support but also directly work in constructing the body, painting the body, the final assembly, and even ensure the quality assurance. These associates work with advanced robotics to ensure that the NSX meets the highest levels of craftsmanship and quality.

Meanwhile, the NSX’s bespoke 75-degree turbocharged twin V-6 engine will be manufactured at its engine plant in Anna, Ohio, and done by a rather small group composed of master engine builders. Though trial production has started, serial production of the supercar will begin in April. The company will be disclosing added details of its groundbreaking manufacturing processes at both the PMC and its Anna Engine Plant. One of the processes involves the precision robotic weld technology.

Here, the space frame of the NSX, which is made of aluminum, will be constructed with the use of advanced joining technologies. Meanwhile the multi-material space frame is manufactured by utilizing 100% robotic MIG wielding, considered as a first in the auto industry. What happens is that 8 weld robots use 860 MIG welds to the space frame. The result is not just an extremely accurate body but also lead to precise and repeatable welds.

In order to make sure that the robotic weld arms get optimal access, the body is turned during the process. To ensure precision, the facility makes use of 360-degree-rotating rotisserie-style body fixtures. To make sure that quality in-line is maintained, highly skilled weld technicians take exact measurements and inspect visually each of the parts at the different stages of the welding process. The purpose of this is to confirm that the space frame is precise, has quality, and has the needed dimensional accuracy.

This is important as it is needed for the vehicle’s dynamic performance as well as the precise fitment of the body panels, suspension, powertrain, and other parts during assembly. Then there is the all-glass quality confirmation center. The company practices a total quality approach and this is clear in the production. This is demonstrated by the attitude of each of the PMC technicians and by how the facility was designed.

The facility has a glass-enclosed quality confirmation center in the middle of the facility. As a result, regardless of which department they belong to, the technicians are able to monitor the different parts of the vehicle as it goes through the whole production process. One thing PMC is proud of is that the engine is built by hand. The NSX is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine with the dry sump lubrication. The entire engine is assembled at the Anna Engine Plant by hand through the master builders. Each of the components is assembled by hand with every 547 of the bolts hand started and even manually tightened to meet precise torque tolerances.

In addition, not only is each of the NSX engine balanced, but it is also bench tested. It is even broken-in to equal 150 miles of service. This guarantees that each NSX engine that comes out of production is track-ready once it is delivered to the customer. To make sure that the performance standards and the highest possible quality is achieved; the build process of the engine continues to be benchmarked versus the race engineering programs of the company. Overall, it takes more than six hours to assemble one engine. The NSX supercar will also be the first time that Ablation casting is used as an automotive application.

This technology was developed by Alotech, Ltd., and is the first use of such technology in the auto industry. This involves making six nodes on the space frame of the NSX and will serve as both the mounting points of the powertrain and a rigid suspension. It will also serve as significant parts of the crash structure of the vehicle. The ablation cast nodes are made at its Anna, Ohio engine plant, that same facility where the V-6 engine is assembled.

For its exterior finish, the one in the NSX supercar is clearly world-class. In addition to the rather extensive substrate preparation and the polishing, a maximum 11 primer and paint coats were used. As such, PMC manages to get a high-quality paint finish that is unrivaled in its segment. Before applying the corrosion-resistant primer, an etching process that uses a zirconium-based material is used on the aluminum space frame of the NSX.

The use of zirconium serves two purposes. The first is that it ensures world-class quality while the second results in lower environmental waste during the painting process. Finally, there is the rotisserie-style sealer application. The facility makes use of two rotisseries during the body sealing application process. This process is where the space frame is first loaded on the fixture, then elevated, and finally rotated 360 degrees.

By having two rotisseries, this there’s a more precise application of the sealer and improved ergonomics for the technicians. This rotisserie is also the first of its kind to be used in the industry since it enables a one-sided attachment of the vehicle’s frame. This makes the loading and unloading much more efficient. The patent on this rotisserie’s design is still pending.

Press Release

ACURA ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR START OF SERIAL PRODUCTION OF THE 2017 ACURA NSX

Acura today announced that the all-new Performance Manufacturing Center will begin serial production of the next-generation Acura NSX supercar in late April, with customer deliveries to commence thereafter.

The new Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) is the exclusive global manufacturing facility for the all-new Acura NSX supercar and is structured around an innovative blend of people and technology. Combining human craftsmanship and technological innovation, the PMC utilizes new approaches to vehicle construction, paint, assembly and quality confirmation to deliver on the Acura brand DNA of Precision Crafted Performance.

The PMC is constructing the Acura supercar entirely in-house and, like the NSX itself, is a clean-sheet development – a manufacturing facility designed around the NSX’s unique Multi-Material Body and aluminum-intensive space-frame design and optimized for low-volume production of high-performance specialty vehicles.

"All of the innovative thinking and hard work that has gone into the creation of this state-of-the-art manufacturing facility has fulfilled our goal to build a supercar in America,” said Clement D’ Souza, the engineering large project leader of the PMC, who managed the creation of the facility. "The incredible passion and challenging spirit of our highly skilled associates enabled us to develop and build a new supercar factory from the ground up simultaneously with the ground up creation of an incredible new supercar in the Acura NSX.”

The PMC was designed to innovate both the means and the methods of producing low-volume specialty cars and to explore new ideas for next-generation Acura craftsmanship and quality. The efforts of PMC associates to innovate many areas of the NSX manufacturing process have led to the application for 12 U.S. patents. The PMC employs approximately 100 associates that support and are directly engaged in body construction, painting, final assembly and quality confirmation, working in concert with advanced robotics to build the NSX to the highest levels of quality and craftsmanship.

Complementary production of the Acura NSX’s bespoke, 75-degree, twin turbocharged V-6 engine takes place at the company’s nearby Anna, Ohio engine plant and is undertaken by a small group of master engine builders.

With trial production underway and serial production starting in April, Acura is revealing additional details of the innovative manufacturing processes at the PMC and Anna Engine Plant.

  • Precision robotic weld technology: the NSX’s aluminum intensive space frame is constructed using advanced joining technologies.
  • The multi-material space frame is created with 100-percent robotic MIG welding, an automobile industry first. Eight weld robots apply 860 MIG welds to the space frame, ensuring highly precise and repeatable welds and a highly accurate body.
  • 360-degree-rotating rotisserie-style body fixtures aid precision by turning the body during the process to provide optimal access for the robotic weld arms.
  • In-line quality confirmation: highly skilled weld technicians both visually inspect and take precise measurements of each part and at every stage of the welding process to validate the quality, precision and dimensional accuracy of the space frame, which is critical for both the dynamic performance of the vehicle and precise fitment of its powertrain, suspension, body panels and other components in assembly.
  • World-class Craftsmanship: hand craftsmanship complements the high-tech robotic processes throughout the assembly of the NSX:
  • Manufacturing technicians spend over 14 hours assembling the NSX powertrain, suspension, electronics, interior components and exterior body panels. Advanced visual operations standards aid technicians in ensuring that each process is performed to established requirements.
  • Critical bolts on the NSX are hand started by a PMC technician and tightened to precise tolerances using wirelessly enabled torque wrenches. This technology allows for the recording of torque settings for every bolt on every car, further ensuring quality in the assembly process.
  • Unlike conventional cars with unibody construction where exterior panels are attached in welding, the NSX utilizes a space frame design, so that the exterior body panels are actually the last parts to be installed on the car. This allows for the exterior panels to be installed at a high level of precision, achieving superior fitment and maintaining world-class paint finish.
  • All-glass quality confirmation center: A total quality approach to production is evident not only in the mindset of every PMC technician but also in the very design of the facility, which features a glass-enclosed quality confirmation center that is centrally located within the plant. This allows technicians from every department to monitor all aspects of a vehicle as it moves through the entire production process.
  • Hand built engine: the NSX's 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine with dry sump lubrication is hand assembled by master builders at the Anna Engine Plant. Each engine takes over six hours to assemble.
  • Each and every component is hand assembled and each of 547 bolts is hand started and manually tightened to precise torque tolerances.
  • Each NSX engine is machine balanced, bench tested and broken-in to the equivalent of 150 miles of service to ensure that every NSX engine is track-ready upon customer delivery.
  • The engine build process was benchmarked against the company's race engineering programs to ensure the highest possible quality and performance standards were achieved.
  • First ever automotive application of Ablation casting: a first-ever application of new technology in the automotive industry, ablation casting, developed by Alotech, Ltd., is utilized for the creation of six nodes with the NSX space frame, serving as rigid suspension and powertrain mounting points and as critical elements of the vehicle’s crash structure. The ablation cast nodes are produced at the company’s Anna, Ohio engine plant, where its V-6 engine is also assembled.
  • World-class exterior finish: with up to 11 coats of primer and paint, along with an extensive substrate preparation and polishing, the PMC achieves a high-quality paint finish unmatched in the class.
  • Space frame with zirconium pre-treatment: the aluminum-intensive NSX space frame undergoes an etching process prior to application of corrosion-resistant primer using a zirconium-based material. While instrumental for world-class quality, the use of zirconium also reduces environmental waste in the painting process.
  • Rotisserie-style sealer application: The use of two rotisseries in the body sealing application process – in which the space frame is loaded onto the fixture, elevated and rotated 360 degrees – provides for more precise application of sealer and improved ergonomics for technicians. The rotisserie is also employed in an industry first application in that it allows for one-sided attachment of the frame for more efficient loading and unloading and is a patent-pending design.
  • Dynamic performance confirmation: Drawing from the company’s extensive race engineering expertise, the NSX undergoes a rigorous pre-delivery dynamic performance confirmation process that includes a detailed 45-minute wheel alignment process, fourcorner weight and ride height check and precision measurements of brake performance at all four wheels, along with other critical performance quality checks. Half of the PMC’s 12 U.S. patent applications relate to the unique processes created in this area.


About the Acura NSX
Created to bring a new experience to the supercar segment, the next-generation Acura NSX challenges conventional beliefs about supercars, with cutting-edge and world-first technologies. Much as the first generation NSX did a quarter century ago, the 2017 NSX breaks the mold through a first-of-its-kind Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive power unit, a multimaterial body structure, advanced aerodynamics and a cockpit that supports performance driving on every level without sacrificing comfort. The 2017 Acura NSX is the only supercar designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S. and is produced exclusively at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio using domestic and globally sourced parts. The NSX engine is manufactured at the Anna, Ohio engine plant, also using domestic and globally sourced parts.

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