Volkswagen Group adds second MetalFAB 3D printer to optimize automotive manufacturing

German car manufacturer Volkswagen Group, Europe’s largest carmaker, has acquired a second MetalFAB 3D printing system from Netherlands based metal 3D printer manufacturer Additive Industries. 

Volkswagen has also invested in parameter development, and has implemented MetalFAB’s Powder Load Tool and Powder Recovery Station to increase efficiency and reduce waste.  

MetalFAB’s system features full-field, automated build-changeovers as well as high-productivity rates. 

Volkswagen reportedly chose to expand their MetalFAB portfolio due to the 3D printer’s high level of automation, which eliminates manual processes and enhances safety. Moreover, the system’s modularity reportedly allows Volkswagen to expand their production capacity without major investment. 

“We as Additive Industries are pleased to be able to provide Volkswagen Group with their second MetalFAB system,” commented Mark Massey, Chief Executive Officer at Additive Industries. “We are here to help them expand their capabilities in the field of additive manufacturing and move towards the next step in the automotive industry.”

The MetalFAB1 machine from Additive Industries. Image via Additive World.
Additive Industries MetalFAB1 3D printer. Photo by Additive world.

Volkswagen and additive manufacture 

This acquisition adds to Volkswagen’s existing metal 3D printing capabilities, which includes a previously purchased MetalFAB 3D printer. 

Volkswagen opened its 3D Printing Center in 2018. The center used various metal 3D print technologies to manufacture automotive components. According to Additive Industries, their MetalFAB system has played a significant part in Volkswagen’s additive manufacturing success. 

Volkswagen announced last year that it had reduced costs by 650% on Tiguan tooling nozzles using its first MetalFAB 3D printer. The published case study states that the fully automated MetalFAB machine reduced the manufacturing lead time from two days to 15 hours and produced 48 parts within a single build. 

Additive Industries says that their MetalFAB System also allows for part consolidation, which reduces manufacturing steps. Volkswagen could also produce the part in stainless steel, rather than titanium, due to the MetalFAB’s material freedom. This offered significant cost savings, without compromising the part’s mechanical performance.  

Volkswagen has looked at other 3D printer makers to expand its metal additive manufacturing capability. In 2021 the company plans to use binder jet 3D Printers from 3D printing OEM HP and software from industrial manufacturing firms Siemens at its main factory in Wolfsburg. Volkswagen hopes to increase its production and reduce costs through this partnership. The company hopes to produce up to 100,000 automotive 3D-printed components each year at its Wolfsburg facility by 2025.     

A Volkswagen Tiguan on the production line. Photo via Volkswagen Group.
Volkswagen Tiguan production line. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen Group.

3D Printing and the Automotive Industry 

Volkswagen is not the only automaker to use additive manufacturing. Toyota, a Japanese automaker, revealed in January that Zortrax 3D Printers helped optimize their vehicle assembly operations.

The company used Zortrax M300 Plus 3D printing systems at two of its Polish locations in Walbrzych (Walbrzych) and Jelcz Laskowice (Jelcz), to replace traditional CNC machining. Toyota claims to have reduced the cost and lead time behind the manufacturing of essential tools and parts, thereby optimizing performance on its production line.    

Audi also announced that in 2021, its Metal 3D Printing Centre at Ingolstadt would be expanding its use EOS 3D Printing to produce hot form tools. The company is reportedly able to produce 12 different segments for four hot forming tool by expanding its additive manufacturing capability at the facility. These parts are used to build car models like the Audi A4 saloon.      

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You can find out more about the industry by visiting their website. You can visit the website to learn more about additive manufacturing. 3D Printing Jobs Browse a range of job opportunities and jumpstart your career. 

A Volkswagen Tiguan is shown on the production lines in the featured image. Photo via Volkswagen Group.

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