It looks like the automotive industry is turning more frequently to additive manufacturing for a range of applications. For example, AUDI AG, a leading manufacturer of premium vehicles, is relying entirely on industrial 3D printing at its Metal 3D Printing Centre in Ingolstadt for the production of selected tool segments. Working with the EOS M 400 system, the automotive manufacturer is using AM technology for 12 segments of four tools for hot forming. Plans call for more segments to be printed this way. Audi uses the tool segments in its press shop to make body panels for models including the Audi A4. The company plans to do the same for future electric vehicles.
Shifting part of its tool segment production activities from conventional manufacturing to AM is an important step, highlighting the quality and reliability of industrial 3D printing and its design freedom advantages. This is the latest outcome of the longstanding cooperative relationship between Audi and EOS in Ingolstadt.
Audi has established an ideal application in the area of hot forming for series vehicles. Several hundred thousand parts have already been produced using the 3D-printed tools and installed in selected models.
The design department in Ingolstadt creates entire tools, which can measure as much as 5 x 3 meters. The individual additively manufactured tool segments in turn can be up to 400 mm in length and weigh as much as 120 kg. The size and complexity of the tool segments mean that construction times of up to 20 days are not uncommon, which is why the reliability and quality of the EOS M 400 3D printing system used are crucial factors. 3D printing makes it possible to create complex cooling channels configured for the specific component within the tool segments. This provides contoured, more-even cooling, making it possible to shorten cycle times with outstanding quality.