According to foreign media reports, although 3D Printing is generally regarded as an important new technology in the automotive industry, its influence is still limited so far. Recently, Volkswagen and Hewlett-Packard have announced a major breakthrough in metal 3D printing, claiming that this technology can meet the needs of mass car production. However, Volkswagen is not ready to push 3D printing technology to the mainstream.
Hewlett-Packard said that the metal inkjet 3D printer it developed can print many parts in a reasonable time, but the printed products are not for the purpose of automobile production. In order to celebrate the release of Volkswagen’s first electric model ID.3 for the mass market, HP used the above technology to print out 10,000 metal models of ID.3 cars, which were presented to guests attending the ID.3 production ceremony. The production of the ID.3 model represents the first of the three phases of Volkswagen’s 3D printing plan. According to HP, Volkswagen plans to apply 3D printing technology to the structural parts of next-generation cars. The two companies hope to increase the number of parts produced and shift the production target from decorative parts to more important parts. HP’s ultimate goal is to produce 50,000-100,000 3D printed parts per year. Although it is currently possible to 3D print parts such as gear shift levers and mirror brackets, HP claims that it will eventually produce “metal parts that fully comply with safety standards.” Although 3D printing technology has many potential applications, so far, its application in the automotive field is relatively small. Both Ford and Aston Martin have discussed that 3D printing can provide customers with more personalized models and make the production of small-volume parts more economical. Ford uses some 3D printed parts to produce brake parts for the Mustang Shelby GT500, and the limited edition Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato also uses some metal 3D printed interior parts. The Volkswagen ID.3 is a small pure electric hatchback sedan, similar in size to the Volkswagen Golf. Although this model will not be sold in the United States, Volkswagen will introduce a crossover based on the same MEB platform and several other electric models to the US market.
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