Audi Toolmaking has brought the historical 1936 Grand Prix sports car ‘Auto Union Typ C’ back to life by leveraging the advantages of 3D printing. The car was one of the most dominant among the Silver Arrow grand prix racers of the pre-war era.
The company is now examining further possible applications of metal printers for the production of complex components as it creates important synergies with toolmaking in other parts of the Volkswagen Group.
Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Production and Head of Toolmaking at the Volkswagen Group said that the company, along with partners in the area of research, is exploring the boundaries of new processes. The team intends to apply metal printers in series production.
The Volkswagen Group has a total of 14 toolmaking units in nine countries. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Waltl, cooperative ventures have been arranged for research and development. The first focus of the cooperation is the implementation of metallic 3D printing and 3D printing in the sand‑printing method.
Audi Toolmaking used metal printing to produce all the metallic parts of the Silver Arrow model ‘Auto Union Typ C’ on a scale of 1:2.
They used a selective-sintering laser to melt layers of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimeter, roughly half of the diameter of a human hair. The process enables the production of components with complex geometries. With conventional methods, these geometries could be produced only with great difficulties, or could not be produced at all.
Audi Toolmaking is currently using 3D printing to produce components out of aluminum and steel. Currently, the process can be used to produce shapes and objects with a length of 240 millimeters and a height of up to 200 millimeters. These printed components achieve a higher density than components made by die casting or hot forming.
Audi Toolmaking’s innovations include the intelligent tool, which is used to help make sharper contours in the sheet metal of car bodies. Lasers installed in the tool measure the position of the sheet metal while activators take corrective action.
Image courtesy of Audi Toolmaking. Video credits: Car Body Design