Volkswagen continues to firmly promote the mass production and application of 3D Printing technology, and has made breakthroughs. It will be the first to manufacture vehicle parts at the Wolfsburg plant in Germany in the near future. The 3D printing technology used by Volkswagen uses lasers to stack parts layer by layer from metal powder. In order to obtain sufficient strength, the metal parts are heated and shaped. By applying 3D printing technology to mass-produced vehicles, it is possible to reduce manufacturing costs and increase productivity. This may be different from the impression that ordinary people have time-consuming and low-yield 3D printing technology. However, compared to the use of steel plate cutting and stamping, the weight of 3D printed metal parts is only about half, which is likely to bring revolutionary changes to the automotive industry. Although Volkswagen is not the first car manufacturer to use 3D printing technology, it is different from the practice of using only concept cars, prototype cars or rare and limited products. Volkswagen is currently the only car manufacturer that uses this technology in a “mass production process.”
To this end, Volkswagen has invested tens of millions of euros in the past five years, and has entered into strategic alliances with Siemens and HP. The former is responsible for providing automation and software solutions, while the high-tech 3D printing equipment is manufactured by HP. In the future, it will accelerate the development and manufacturing of vehicle parts, provide more flexibility and reduce resource consumption. In addition, Volkswagen has also worked with Siemens to optimize the placement of each type of part, so that it can double the output each time it prints.
By 2025, the group aims to increase the number of parts produced by Wolfsburg with 3D printing technology to 100,000 per year. As for the first 3D printed part used in mass production cars at this stage, it will be the A-pillar of the convertible T-Roc, which can reduce the weight by nearly 50% compared to the use of steel. As for safety, Volkswagen has already tested 3D printed metal parts and passed it smoothly.
However, up to now, mass manufacturing is still not economical, but with the introduction of a new process jointly developed by Volkswagen, Siemens and HP, this problem will soon be resolved.
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