Volkswagen taps HP technology for 3D printing in series production

September 11, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Volkswagen taps HP technology for 3D printing in series production
Together with Hewlett-Packard, Volkswagen intends to introduce the additive manufacturing process into series production. The aim is to increase productivity by up to 50 times compared with conventional manufacturing processes, depending on the component. At the same time, a company spokesman warned against all too high expectations.

For the introduction of 3D printing, Volkswagen is relying on the HP Metal Jet process. In the 3D printing project, the third member is the components manufacturer GKN Powder Metallurgy. By 2019, this company plans to establish a process chain together with VW that is geared towards automobile production. The first small (design) components are to be used to further develop the technology so that the first structural components for series production vehicles can be printed in two to three years.

The next step is to introduce the technology in small series. Examples of objects that can be produced in this way are lettering for the tailgate, special gear knobs or keys with individualized lettering.

A vehicle is manufactured from around 6,000 to 8,000 different parts. Previous 3D printing processes can, however, only be used for the special production of individual parts or prototypes. The additive 3D Metal Jet technology from HP makes it possible for the first time to produce a large number of parts using 3D printing - without having to develop and manufacture the corresponding tools. This significantly reduces the time required to manufacture parts. As a result, the process also becomes interesting for the production of large quantities in a short period of time.

3D printing using the "HP Metal Jet" process is an additive process in which components are produced layer by layer using a powder and binder. The component is then "baked" into a metallic component in a sintering process. This distinguishes it from previous processes in which powder is melted by means of a laser.

The number and size of components from the 3D printer in Volkswagen series production will increase significantly in the foreseeable future, explained Martin Goede, Head of Technology Planning and Development at the car manufacturer. "Our goal is to integrate printed structural parts into the next generation of vehicles as early as possible. In the long term, we expect

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