Audi Adopts Full Colour, Multi-Material 3D Printing to Speed Up Car Design
Audi has announced that it has installed a new full-colour, multi-material 3D printer at its Pre-Series Center in Ingolstadt, as part of an effort to quicken up its car design process.
For example, for the production of tail light covers, the German carmaker claims the new printer will cut prototyping lead times by “up to 50 per cent”.
Before any new car goes into production, the Audi Pre-Series Center is tasked with building physical models and prototypes for the brand to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly.
This requires allocation of most parts of the vehicle in an early stage of product development – everything from wheel covers and door handles to radiator grills.
In the case of tail light covers, Audi’s engineers traditionally used milling or moulding to produce individual parts. The main challenge with these production techniques are the multi-coloured covers of the tail light housing. These individual colour parts must be assembled, as they cannot be produced in one-piece – and this time-intensive process not only increases lead times for design verification but also subsequently delays time-to-market.
Now streamlining the process, the newly-installed 3D printer will for the first time enable production of entirely transparent, multi-coloured tail light covers in a single print, eliminating the need for what was previously a multi-step process.
“Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development,” says Tim Spiering, who heads a 24-member team responsible for providing all plastics 3D printing expertise at the Ingolstadt plant. “As a result, we need prototypes to have exact part geometries, no distortion and extremely high quality, as well as true-to-part colour and transparency.”