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Volkswagen’s 3D Printing in manufacturing

September 14, 2018
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Volkswagen’s 3D Printing in manufacturing

The 3D printing revolution has already touched cars in a multitude of ways, but Volkswagen is planning to take the largest step yet: mass production of parts. We’ve seen 3D printers produce calipers, door sills and even entire cars, but it’s always been for limited production purposes. VW is seeking to change that, and it’s thanks to HP’s new $400,000 metal jet 3D printer.

This new printer is excellent at printing parts made out of steel. We won’t get too technical here, but the process it uses is better than previous technology, because it promises to increase productivity up to 50 times compared to current 3D printing methods, depending on the component being produced. Before, 3D printers like this used a process of melting the “steel powder” and binder (a type of glue) together with a laser. HP says it uses a much quicker method of layering the powder and binder, then baking the part it created in a sintering process – the sintering is taken care of by a couple manufacturing corporations, not HP.

So what exactly does all that mean for a vehicle you might eventually drive? VW says it’s going to begin making smaller and more customization options at the start like tailgate lettering, gear knobs and personalized keys. Within 2-3 years however, it plans to make “structural components for mass-production vehicles” using this method. We asked VW what specific parts and for what cars it plans on using this 3D printing for, and will update if we hear back.

Source: CNBC

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