Automaker teams with Siemens, HP to make lighter components, with goal of 100,000 annually by 2025
Volkswagen has begun certifying prototype 3D-printed structural components, with the aim of producing 100,000 parts annually by 2025.
VW is teaming with Siemens and HP to industrialize 3D printing of structural parts, which can be significantly lighter than equivalent components made of sheet steel.
The automaker will use an additive process known as binder jetting to make the components at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. HP is providing the printers and Siemens will supply the manufacturing software.
Whilst the process might not be ready to mass produce items just yet, there’s still plenty of room for testing. The latest Porsche-printed item, then, is a complete housing for an electric drive unit.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Bear with us though, because Porsche has found that using this additive manufacturing process allows the honeycomb-like aluminium housing to be 100 per cent stiffer, 10 per cent lighter and still more compact than a conventionally cast part. Impressive.
Patent attorney Thomas Prock explores the threats posed by additive manufacturing to automotive intellectual property portfolios
The world has progressively digitised in recent decades and the pace of change is increasing, changing products and industries beyond recognition. The ready and rapid adoption of digital technology in all parts of society is testament to the benefits digital technology provides. At the heart of these new technologies is the management of data flows, be that for the purpose of optimising manufacturing processes or assisting people in the performance of everyday tasks or even automating them altogether.
The automotive industry is no stranger to digitisation, and the particular intellectual property (IP) challenges it brings. Originally, IP conflicts were between rival automotive innovators, and solutions such as cross-licensing IP were relatively easy to agree and cost effective. More recently however, Non-Practicing Entities – entities that have no intention to make or sell the invention covered by IP – have bought up IP rights with the sole purpose of extracting royalty payments from automotive companies. The frequency of such cases has been exacerbated by the digitisation of the automotive industry and the surge in innovation, and need for IP, in the automotive data communication field.
During this month’s AM Focus Automotive, we are mapping out the most accurate and up to date scenario for automotive additive manufacturing in final part production. We present an analysis of the latest progress made by each major automaker group and some of the key activities—either publicly disclosed or confirmed by reliable sources. Here’s a look at BMW additive manufacturing. In the previous episodes, we looked at Volkswagen, General Motors, Daimler Benz and Ford. Still upcopming: PSA, FCA and JLR.
German OEM Daimler Buses enters the new year looking to develop a new business model: directly producing spare parts in-house for customers via 3D printing.
Components produced by the process also called additive manufacturing currently come from external providers and meet specified quality standards, including those related to status of being a genuine part for the group’s Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands.
Daimler wants to transfer that work in-house for customers. “The objective is to reorganise the value-added chain of the individual production areas and to derive a new business model from it,” the company said.
EvoBus GmbH, a subsidiary of the Daimler Group, is one of the leading manufacturers in the global omnibus segment. In order to continue expanding its pioneering role in times of increasing competitive pressure, EvoBus is pursuing two strategic aims: sustainably increase its profitability and enhance its capacity to innovate. In particular, EvoBus needs to find an answer to the growing challenges in the field of Customer Services & Parts (CSP). Daimler Buses sees additive manufacturing as a key tool in reaching these targets. In order to successfully integrate industrial 3D printing within its organization, Daimler Buses decided to rely on the expertise of Additive Minds, the consulting division of EOS, right from the early project phase. The team of experts at EOS specializes in leading customers through the various development phases of additive manufacturing.
Each F1 season, the FIA issues new regulations for vehicles participating in the championship. The new rules are tested using prototype car models implemented. Last month, the 2021 vehicle underwent extensive wind tunnel testing using an accurate, 50 percent scale model produced with the help of additive manufacturing.
The wind tunnel tests were performed by an independent consultancy group from Sauber, a Swiss motorsport engineering company, using its own wind tunnel facility. The use of additive manufacturing to create the scale models delivered a number of benefits to the development team. Pat Symonds, F1’s Chief Technical Officer, stated “50% is a good compromise in that we can still get a good level of detail on the model but we still have distance behind. It’s true teams have tended to go more to 60% these days.”
Additive manufacturing is no longer just for prototypes. Its increasing popularity and technical capabilities have pushed it into position to change the way manufacturers manage their spare parts inventory.
No matter how technologies change, or what new innovations break into the mainstream, the basic goals of manufacturing remain the same: Reduce unplanned downtime, reduce costs, eliminate unnecessary waste, etc. How fortunate it is that 3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) is one of those cool, innovative technologies that is finding itself a very nice spot in the realm of day-to-day cost and time savings. Not only can it be used to produce interesting and previously impossible designs, it has also become a useful way to change spare parts management.
When a system goes down, making the repairs needed to get it back up and running can be time-consuming. Even more so if the part that needs replacing is no longer readily available. With the right program in place, additive manufacturing can build that part on demand—whether through reverse engineering, digital files from the component supplier, or perhaps through the supplier itself.
In recent years, advances in the printing technology, in the materials that can be used, and the software control of the end-to-end workflow have fundamentally changed the way parts can be made with additive manufacturing, says John Nanry, co-founder and chief product officer at Fast Radius, which provides 3D printing services.
SmarTech Analysis just released a new report on automotive additive manufacturing. This new edition follows the report published compiled last year, however, this is not just a new and updated edition. It is an entirely new report, which, for the first time, moves entirely away from AM for prototypes to focus exclusively on automotive AM end-use parts production, which is now fully within reach and is going to enable additive manufacturing to finally scale up.
The term “end-use parts” is used in the report to indicate both final automotive parts and tools (and tools include molds, dies, jigs and fixtures as well as custom assembly tools) used in the automotive production process.
The depth of automotive AM end-use parts
In order to provide new and more detailed information in its forecasts, the report leverages data from SmarTech’s unique and industry-leading database and dissects into more segments. These include two key areas: one is geographic, with country-specific forecasts. The other is relative to the supply chain, trying to answer the question that most automakers are asking themselves: where is the money coming from (that will drive AM adoption in the automotive industry)?
The automotive industry has always had a longstanding relationship with 3D printing and technology in general. Automotive companies that are seemingly successful, have been known over the years to experiment with various 3D printing technology and applications, which has consequently had a considerable influence on the supply chain as well as on product development. Smaller automotive manufacturers, especially, have benefited from the use of 3D printing and have included it as a critical component of their production owing to its many advantages.
In recent times, the automotive industry outdated the predominant use of prototyping applications for purposes of additive engineering into the end-use invention. The flexible nature of the technology and the extensive design freedom offered to car manufacturers has led to the creation of new and cutting-edge designs, therefore revolutionizing the entire automotive industry.
Benefits of 3D printing in the automotive industry
Additive manufacturing is a wide-ranging term that refers to a series of processes that allows the creation of parts and components in an additive instead of a subtractive manner. What this means is that car components are created layer by layer rather than having material extracted from a large block. This technique and approach, as well as the technologies used, come with numerous advantages that are hard to find in conventional manufacturing processes. The benefits of using 3D printing in the car industry include: