Audi Uses SLM Solutions Metal 3D Printers for Spare Parts On-Demand

Audi Uses SLM Solutions Metal 3D Printers for Spare Parts On-Demand

Thứ hai - 27/08/2018 22:30

The SLM So­lu­tions Group AG has been col­lab­o­rat­ing closely with AUDI AG for quite some time. The com­pany uses the se­lec­tive laser melt­ing process for the man­u­fac­ture of parts for pro­to­types and spare parts re­quested ex­tremely rarely. For ex­am­ple, the water adapters of the Audi W12 en­gine are man­u­fac­tured on de­mand with the SLM280.

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The metal-based ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy opens up com­pletely new ways in the areas of de­vel­op­ment, de­sign and pro­duc­tion, and it is now also used sys­tem­at­i­cally in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try in var­i­ous areas. The biggest ad­van­tage of this process is the re­al­iza­tion of highly com­plex com­po­nents, which can­not be pro­duced with ex­ist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing processes or only with high costs. As a rule of thumb, the smaller, more com­plex and less cost-sen­si­tive a com­po­nent is, the more it is suit­able for 3D print­ing.

AUDI AG has taken ad­van­tage of these fa­vor­able con­di­tions and uses metal­lic 3D print­ing for spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tion areas. In spe­cial and ex­clu­sive se­ries, the first com­po­nents are al­ready being man­u­fac­tured using the ad­di­tive SLM method as well as are rarely de­manded, orig­i­nal spare parts, for ex­am­ple, a water adapter for the Audi W12 en­gine.

“Manufacturing on demand is a vision for us to ensure supply with original spare parts, which are required less often, economically sustainably in the future. Regional printing centers would simplify logistics and warehousing. “Dr. Alexander Schmid, After Sales Manager at AUDI AG.”

metal 3d printed water connectors for audi w12 engine

The ma­chines of the SLM280 se­ries have proved to be par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. The ma­chine cre­ates high-qual­ity metal build parts based on 3D CAD data. Mea­sur­ing 280 x 280 x 365 mm³, the ma­chine pro­vides one of the largest con­struc­tion spaces in its class as well as patented multi-beam tech­nol­ogy. The pow­er­ful 700W lasers, which ex­pose the build field dur­ing the build process via 3D scan op­tics, fur­ther shorten build times. The ma­chine is con­vinc­ing thanks to its ex­cel­lent pro­duc­tiv­ity, high qual­ity and safe pow­der han­dling.

Pro­to­typ­ing has al­ready rev­o­lu­tion­ized the tech­nol­ogy today, be­cause a com­po­nent can be trans­ferred di­rectly from de­sign draw­ings into re­al­ity. Har­ald Eibisch, in the Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment at AUDI AG, noted: “The new con­struc­tive free­doms pro­vided by this tech­nol­ogy are es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing. Com­po­nents for pro­to­types and spare parts re­quested ex­tremely rarely are bet­ter suited for SLM processes than con­ven­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­ce­dures thanks to the ben­e­fits of free geo­met­ric de­sign. The load ca­pac­ity of the com­po­nents is com­pa­ra­ble with parts man­u­fac­tured using tra­di­tional meth­ods.” The water adapter of the W12 en­gine also shows that 3D print­ing sets no lim­its in terms of loads. There is no di­rect dis­ad­van­tage in the ma­te­r­ial prop­er­ties, and even highly stressed parts such as pis­tons can be printed. Be­cause ma­te­r­ial is ap­plied layer by layer, you can specif­i­cally in­flu­ence the mi­crostruc­ture, via which the me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties dif­fer­ent sig­nif­i­cantly from con­ven­tion­ally pro­duced com­po­nents.

The re­search de­part­ment at­trib­utes enor­mous im­por­tance to the topic of 3D print­ing. Dr. Ruben Heid, in the Tech­nol­ogy De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment at AUDI AG, added: “Ac­cord­ing to a rule of thumb, a com­po­nent is suit­able for 3D print­ing when it is smaller, com­plex and not very cost-sen­si­tive. The ad­di­tive process pro­vides us with plenty of lee­way, for ex­am­ple, if a com­po­nent is to han­dle ad­di­tional func­tions such as cool­ing or cur­rent. The new pro­ce­dure also pro­vides ben­e­fits in weight re­duc­tion.”

Ralf Fro­hw­erk, Global Head of Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment at SLM So­lu­tions Group AG con­firmed: “The trust of au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers in metal-based 3D print­ing is in­creas­ing daily. Thanks to grow­ing un­der­stand­ing of “real and mean­ing­ful,” 3D-suit­able de­sign­ing, pre­vi­ously unimag­in­able de­signs for ve­hi­cle parts are being cre­ated. Know­ing that nearly every au­tomaker also has ve­hi­cle pro­grams with num­bers of pieces < 2000 – 3000 units per year in its port­fo­lio, there are also al­ready alu­minum die cast com­po­nents today, for ex­am­ple, that can be pro­duced more eco­nom­i­cally using ad­di­tive processes.

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