Manufacturing

How major automakers use AM for production today : Volkswagen additive manufacturing

The year 2019 was the year in the favour of additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology. Automotive industry are the ones who will be more improvised after the use of 3D printing technology. There are many manufacturers who are impressed with this technology and started using this technology to manufacture their automobile’s parts. It saves their time as well as money which is a big thing for any manufacturers.

During this AM Focus Automotive, we are going to provide to the point scenario of automotive additive manufacturing in final part production. We will present an accurate analysis of the latest progress made by each major automaker group and some of their key activities—either publicly disclosed or confirmed by officials. In this, we will take a look at Volkswagen additive manufacturing activities.

VW motors are ine of the largest user of AM among all the luxurious motor manufacturers. AM technologies have already been used in production mainly by the group’s many luxury brands (Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche and Bentley). In these cases, lower unit numbers and fewer cost restraints were faster to meet AM’s value proposition for metal and polymer technologies.

Volkswagen

The primary brand of VW Group is now looking at high-productivity binder jetting technology by HP for its own brand of mass-produced vehicles. Most of the Volkswagen’s additive manufacturing related activities happened at the automakers’ state of the art 3D Printing Center at the Autostadt, at the Wolfsburg factory site. The group majorly relies on this center just to test and learn about AM technologies, other than this they also conduct some tooling and final part production. Production of larger batches is generally carried out with the help of partnerships with other external AM service provider.

Audi

After the Volkswagen, here somes the Audi which also belongs to the group which also use metallic 3D printing. An Audi team at the 3D printing center in Ingolstadt is still working on spare-part and serial parts production. Replacement parts which is not in much demand, such as water connecting pipes for the W12 engine, have been manufactured by 3D printing using metal PBF supplied by SLM Solutions. This projects involve using SLM Solutions AM technology together to integrate additional functions such as cooling or current, with weight reduction. The companies believe that nearly every automaker also has vehicle programs with 2,000–3,000 units per year in their portfolio; within these, there are also already several aluminum die-cast components available today that can be produced more economically.

Porsche

Porsche’s research and production activities with AM are going in the Weissach Development Center. The automaker uses the 3D printing process to manufacture every single parts for their classic cars. One of the example is the release lever for the clutch in the Porsche 959, which is no longer available right now. This gray cast-iron part was designed to meet high-quality requirements and is needed due to the low production of their super sports car itself. Porsche is now also working with DMG Mori for the production of tools and final parts made form metals via DED processes.

In 2017 Porsche also made an investment in Markforged. The company’s continuous fiber composite and bound metal filament extrusion technologies are used primarily for tool-making

Bugatti

Bugatti is also one of the well known and reputed member of the Volkswagen Group. They are also using and relying more and more on AM. This company had developed the world’s first ever brake caliper made by additive manufacturing, namely an eight-piston monobloc model. Compared to other previous old fashioned aluminum components, which are installed in cars like the Bugatti Chiron, the printed titanium brake caliper which is lighter than the previous ones and is also more robust. Bugatti has also worked with SLM Solutions on serial production by AM of several parts for the Chiron: these include brake calipers and aerodynamic elements in the rear spoiler.

Lamborghini

Lamborghini’s first ever part manufactured using Carbon’s technology were a fuel cap which have a very new texture with the Urus label and a clip component for an air duct. Both parts was made for Lamborghini’s Super SUV, the Urus model, which was introduced in the year 2018. Lamborghini have been a long-time user of additive manufacturing for prototyping and tooling. They majorly rely on Stratasys FDM and PolyJet technologies, which uses some of the best 3D printer. They have been in work with them for both internally and external service providers. This collaboration between Lamborghini and Carbon has evolved many more parts, this time for the exclusive Sian model, and more parts were also introduced just recently. In fact, Lamborghini also embraced another 3D printing project, this time as a great marketing initiative, by swapping a 3D printed Aventador with a real one last Christmas.

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