Volkswagen Working On Making 3D Printed Car Parts With HP
3D printing has made a lot of products easier to manufacture. A recent announcement from Volkswagen has opened the possibility that even Fox shocks and other car parts are to be made using this advanced method.
Volkswagen recently announced their plans to be the first automaker to integrate 3D printing into their production line by utilizing HP’s MetalJet system. The company believes that this technology could do much to improve production by several magnitudes.
HP recently demonstrated the practical capability of their Metal Jet system, showing that it can actually make car parts without having to make other tools in order to make the desired component. This, in turn, would greatly speed up production, which would allow VW to reach high mass production volumes over shorter time frames.
The official VW blog stated that, while parts and components that were made via the Metal Jet system weren’t ready for production in the past, that has changed, and they, alongside HP, believe that 3D printing is now viable for mass production. Notably, the latest developments in HP’s 3D printing tech came after the company went to GKN Powder Metallurgy for metal powder solutions they could utilize in their Metal Jet system.
Volkswagen Head of Technology Planning and Development Dr. Martin Goede says that auto production is dealing with several key challenges, which include increasing desire from customers for customization and personalization, alongside increasing production complexity due to the number of new models made. That’s why, he explains, the company is always looking for new developments that can help them ensure smooth and fast production, which is where 3D printing comes in.
Dr. Goede notes that, a 3D-printed car might not be happening any time soon, but the technology will be helpful in producing more and bigger parts.
GKN Powder Metallurgy has stated that they’ll continue refining their metal powder solutions in order to properly develop a process chain that can handle mass-scale automotive part production, which would be the first of its kind and would set the benchmark for companies like Fox shocks and the like. The initial run will focus on smaller parts as a way to refine the technology for use for bigger parts.