The production of the fun car is part of Audi’s developments towards new manufacturing processes. According to Hubert Waltl, in Audi’s executive board responsible for production technologies, the company’s declared goal is deploying metal printing in series vehicle production. “Together with partners in the area of research, we are constantly exploring the boundaries of new processes“, Waltl said.
The Volkswagen Group as Audi’s parent company maintains 14 toolmaking units in nine countries. The company has a number of cooperative R&D ventures in place to explore ways to print cars in series production. Currently the focus lies on the implementation of metallic 3D printing and 3D printing in the sand-printing method - the technology used to produce all metallic parts of the historic Silver Arrow model Auto Union Typ C from 1936 on a scale of 1:2.
For this purpose, a selective-sintering laser melted layers of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimetre, roughly half of the diameter of a human hair. The process allows the production of components with complex geometries, which with conventional methods could either not be produced or only with great difficulties.
Audi Toolmaking is currently using 3D printing to produce components of aluminium and steel. At present, this process can be used to produce shapes and objects with a length of 240 millimetres and a height of up to 200 millimetres. These printed components achieved a higher density than components made by die casting or hot forming, the company said.
The original Silver Arrow racing cars, made by Audi predecessor company Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz in the thirties of the 20. Century, won numerous Grand Prix victories, mainly on the Avus racetrack in Berlin.