Only a few days of development time instead of several months is what Mahle GmbH promises itself – and its customers: The automotive supplier has put a new 3D printing centre into operation in Stuttgart, with the help of which the production of prototypes can be significantly shortened as part of a development project. The centre includes printers, a powder preparation module, a test laboratory and a blasting unit for finishing the components. Mahle intends to use it both for internal prototype production and for customer orders, thereby strengthening its role as a development partner to the automotive industry. The company has its sights set on the development of climate-neutral drive systems in particular, which is due in the near future and will take place under great time pressure.
“The development of new systems and components has to be much faster today than it was a few years ago, especially when it comes to solutions for sustainable CO2-neutral drive concepts,” says Michael Frick, CFO and acting Chairman of the Mahle Group Management Board.
An important aspect of the prototype production offer is the suitability of the components for series production. Martin Berger, Head of Central Research and Advance Engineering at Mahle, emphasises: “In the new facility, processes are also being developed that make 3D printing in industrial series production possible according to the standards of the automotive industry. This opens up new possibilities in product development and manufacturing, because this process can be used to produce high-performance components that cannot be manufactured using conventional methods.”
In terms of market technology, the newly opened 3D printing centre is particularly focused on the development of components for use in e-vehicles and other sustainable drive concepts. Especially for the areas of thermal management, mechatronics and electronics, manufacturing processes will be developed here in the future and qualified for later series production. The materials used are special aluminium and stainless steel alloys which, depending on the application, are particularly resilient, corrosion-resistant or weight-optimised.
3D printing at Mahle gained significant momentum last year when the group successfully produced and tested pistons and intercoolers for the Porsche 911 GT2 RS super sports car in a joint project with Porsche and tool machines manufacturer Trumpf. https://www.mahle.com/en/