VW to Use New 3D Printing Process in Vehicle Production
Volkswagen is pressing ahead with the use of 3D printers, and a process known as binder jetting, in car production.
Whereas conventional 3D printing uses a laser to build a component layer by layer from metallic powder, the binder jetting process uses an adhesive. The resulting metallic component is then heated and shaped. VW says that using the binder jetting component reduces costs and increases productivity –the components weigh only half as much as those made from sheet steel.
Volkswagen says it is currently the only carmaker using this 3D printing technology in the production process.
The company partnered with HP and Siemens to develop the hardware and software for the project.
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re continuing to work on innovation,” says Christian Vollmer, member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for Production and Logistics. “Together with our partners, we aim to make 3D printing even more efficient in the years ahead and suitable for production-line use.”
By 2025, VW says the aim is to produce up to 100,000 components by 3D printing each year at its Wolfsburg plant. The first components made using the binder jetting process – for the A pillar of the T-Roc convertible – have already gone to the company’s Osnabrück plant for certification. VW says that until now, the production of larger volumes was not cost-effective enough, but claims that the new technology and the collaboration will make production-line use economically viable.
Volkswagen has been using 3D printing for years, and there are now 13 units at the Wolfsburg plant using various printing processes to manufacture components, from plastic components for prototypes such as centre consoles, door cladding, instrument panels and bumpers, to printed metal components including intake manifolds, radiators, brackets and support elements.
9 July 2021