Additive manufacturing Up to 100K parts by 2025: VW increasingly uses 3D printing

Author / Editor: mid/jr / Alexander Stark

Germany — 3D printing is also gaining importance in car production. Together with Siemens and HP, Volkswagen is currently testing a new process that is expected to bring significant weight advantages, among other things.

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Two Volkswagen employees check the quality of structural parts produced using the binder jetting process for car production in front of the prototype of the special printer at the high-tech 3D printing center in Wolfsburg.
Two Volkswagen employees check the quality of structural parts produced using the binder jetting process for car production in front of the prototype of the special printer at the high-tech 3D printing center in Wolfsburg.
(Source: Volkswagen)

By 2025, up to 100,000 VW-parts per year are to be produced using 3D printing. The manufacturer announced that the first components from the new “binder jetting” process are currently being certified in Osnabrück: parts for the A-pillar of the T-Roc Cabrio. These parts are said to weigh almost 50 percent less than conventional parts made of sheet steel.

In conventional 3D printing, a laser builds up a component layer by layer from metallic powder, whereas in the binder jetting process this is done by an adhesive. The resulting component is then heated and formed into a metallic part. The new high-tech printers come from HP and Siemens supplies the special software for so-called additive manufacturing.

3D-printed metallurgical vehicle components have already been crash-tested. However, the production of larger quantities has not yet been economical enough — but new technologies and this cooperation will make the use in series production economically feasible.

Volkswagen has already been working with 3D printing for 25 years — and originally started in the area of technical development with the aim of accelerating the development of vehicles and making it more cost-effective. Today, 13 systems are operated at the Wolfsburg site that can produce both plastic and metal components using different printing processes.

Examples include plastic components for prototypes such as centre consoles, door panels and instrument panels through to bumpers. In metal printing, intake manifolds, heat sinks, brackets and carrier parts, among other things, are printed. In the past 25 years, VW says it has already produced more than one million components using the 3D printing process.

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