For the first time ever, Volkswagen will be using a new 3D printing process called binder jetting to manufacture components at the company’s plant in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Unlike conventional 3D printing which uses a laser to build a component layer by layer from metallic powder, the binder jetting process uses an adhesive. The finished component is then heated and shaped. Watch the video below to better understand the process.
This will not only reduce costs but increase productivity by cutting production time by months. The components will also be lighter, weighing only half as much as those made from sheet steel.
Volkswagen is currently the only car manufacturer using this 3D printing technology in the production process. In achieving this, Volkswagen has invested around 50 million euros over the past five years. The company also announced its collaboration with Siemens and HP in this effort.
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HP will provide the high-tech printers needed while Siemens will assist with special software for additive manufacturing. Together Volkswagen and Siemens also optimises the positioning of these components in the build chamber.
The process is called “nesting”, a technique that Volkswagen says allows them to produce twice as many parts per print session, compared to conventional 3D printing methods.
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The first components made using the binder jetting process includes components for the A-pillar of the T-Roc cabriolet. These weigh almost 50% less than conventional components made from sheet steel.
By 2025, Volkswagen aims to produce up to 100,000 components by 3D printing in Wolfsburg each year. In the last 25 years, Volkswagen has produced over one million components via 3D printing. Typical components for prototype vehicles include center consoles, door cladding, instrument panels and bumpers.