Germany-based Audi AG
, a leading manufacturer of premium vehicles, is relying entirely on industrial 3-D printing at its Metal 3-D Printing Centre in Ingolstadt for the production of selected tooling components.
Additive manufacturing (AM) with EOS technology is used for 12 parts of four tools for hot forming. Audi uses the tooling components produced using the EOS M 400 system in its press shop to make body panels for models including the Audi A4 and it plans to do the same for future electric vehicles.
Shifting part of its tooling production activities from conventional manufacturing to AM is an important step forward for Audi, highlighting both the quality and reliability of industrial 3-D printing and the design freedom advantages this production method offers.
EOS provided support in the form of technology and know-how before and during the construction of Audi’s 3-D printing centre back in 2016 and since then, engineers from both companies have been making steady progress on the use of AM.
Moreover, Audi has established an ideal application in the area of ‘hot forming’ for series vehicles. Several hundred thousand parts have already been produced using the 3-D printed tools and installed in selected models. Reaping the fruits of years of development
Matthias Herker, technical project manager at the Audi Metal 3D Printing Center, said: “From initial qualification by EOS to internal further development and refinement of the entire process chain through to standardisation of a new production method, Audi is now reaping the fruits of years of development. Whenever conventional manufacturing methods reach their limit, we use AM – which lets us meet quality standards and comply with production times.”
Markus Glasser, EOS senior vice president (EMEA), said: “The latest examples show that 3-D printing has become an established part of operating materials production at Audi. We are especially proud that the tool parts made using AM are created exclusively using an industrial 3-D printer from EOS. Audi is a partner we can work with to continue to drive the use of AM in automotive production – a key industry for us.”
When AM is used at the Audi Metal 3D Printing Center, the focus is on hot forming segments and high-pressure die casting tool inserts. The design department in Ingolstadt creates entire tools, which can measure as much as 5 x 3m.
The individual AM tool parts in turn can be up to 400mm in length and weigh as much as 120kg. The size and complexity of the components mean that construction times of up to 20 days are not uncommon, which is why the reliability and quality of the EOS M 400 3D printing system that is used are crucial.
AM makes it possible to create highly complex cooling channels configured for the specific component within the tool segment. This provides contoured, more-even cooling, making it possible to shorten cycle times with outstanding quality — a critical point for series production of the actual vehicle parts.