Posted in | 3D Printing

3D Printed Car Parts From HP and Volkswagen

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Volkswagen has announced its intention to be the first automotive manufacturer to implement 3D printing into its production line using HP’s Metal Jet system. The Wolfsburg based company believes the technology could improve production up to fifty times as it gears up to integrate HP’s groundbreaking metal additive 3D printing system.

HP has recently demonstrated that its latest technology can manufacture various car parts and components without the need for fabricating other tools in order to complete the task. This greatly increases the speed of production which gives VW the chance to produce high mass production volumes over shorter periods of time.

While the parts and components previously produced by the Metal Jet system were not quite production ready, VW and HP now believe 3D printing is in fact ready for mass production, according to the VW blog. The new generation of 3D printers in HP’s technology was developed after HP approached GKN Powder Metallurgy while seeking metal powder solutions for their Metal Jet system.

Automotive production is facing major challenges: our customers are increasingly expecting more personalization options. At the same time, complexity is increasing with the number of new models. That’s why we are relying on state-of-the-art technologies to ensure a smooth and fast production. 3D printing plays a particularly important role in manufacturing of individual parts.

Dr. Martin Goede, Head of Technology Planning and Development, Volkswagen

Celebrating the recent launch of VW’s first mass-produced electric car – the ID.3 – HP produced 10,00 scale models of the ID.3. These models were then handed out as gifts to guests attending the production ceremony in Germany. HP believes that the scale models signify and outline the first stage of VW’s 3D printing production plan with the second stage being the printing of parts for the next-generation of vehicles. HP’s aim is to assist VW in printing 50-100,000 parts a year starting with individualized design components such as gearshift knobs, personalized keys, and tailgate lettering.

Both HP and VW claim that in the near future the Metal Jet system will be able to print fully safety-certified parts. “That’s why the new HP Metal Jet platform is an important step into the future for us as an automotive manufacturer, but also for the entire industry. And we look forward to helping shape this development and thus creating further added value for our customers in the future,” said Dr. Goede.

GKN Powder Metallurgy will continually evolve their metal powder solutions and production methods in order to initiate a process chain that can shift toward mass-scale automotive production, in collaboration with Volkswagen and HP. The initial run of small design components are to be used as a way to hone and perfect the technology so that structural components for mass-production vehicles can be printed and on the production line within two to three years.

A complete vehicle will probably not be manufactured by a 3D printer any time soon, but the number and size of parts from the 3D printer will increase significantly. Our goal is to integrate printed structural parts into the next generation of vehicles as quickly as possible. In the long term, we expect a continuous increase in unit numbers, part sizes and technical requirements – right up to soccer-size parts of over 100,000 units per year.

Dr. Martin Goede, Head of Technology Planning and Development, Volkswagen

Volkswagen hopes to be the leader in applying Metal Jet technology in the automotive industry and believe with the technology and collaboration with HP and GKN they can drive forward with their initiative. HP claims to have the most advanced metals 3D printing technology which they believe can, “accelerate a 4th industrial revolution.”

With partners like HP and Volkswagen, I think we can help change the world.

Peter Oberparleiter, CEO, GKN Powder Metallurgy

David J. Cross, M.A

Written by

David J. Cross, M.A

David is an academic researcher and interdisciplinary artist. David's current research explores how science and technology, particularly the internet and artificial intelligence, can be put into practice to influence a new shift towards utopianism and the reemergent theory of the commons.

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