Volkswagen is planning to go big on 3D printing for car production in the coming years, as the company believes that the latest technologies would enable it to produce strong and lightweight components more efficiently and cost-effectively.
The carmaker says that the latest 3D printing process, called binder jetting, is already being used at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. Rather than using a laser to build objects from carbon, as is the case with traditional 3D printing methods, binder jetting uses an adhesive to create a metallic component that is then heated and shaped. This method saves cost and also delivers impressive weight-saving, with a binder jetting component weighing half of what its steel equivalent does. Currently the company is 3D printing A-Pillar components for the Volkswagen T-Roc convertible, however Volkswagen plans to produce up to 100 000 3D printed components a year by 2025. The carmaker has already successfully completed crash tests on 3D-printed components.
Volkswagen has also entered into a software partnership with Siemens, and expanded its current tie-up with HP. “We are very proud to support Volkswagen with our innovative 3D printing solutions,” said Siemens Digital Industries CEO Cedrik Neike. “Our automation and software solutions are leading in industrial production applications. Using this technology, Volkswagen will be able to develop and produce components faster, more flexibly and using fewer resources.”
Volkswagen board member Christian Vollmer said he believed the partnership would allow the company to make 3D printing even more efficient and suitable for production line use in the coming years.