Volkswagen invests in 3D printers for realistic prototypes

Volkswagen invests in 3D printers for realistic prototypes

Market news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Volkswagen has bought two high-end, industrial-grade 3D printers with associated technology to enhance its prototyping capabilities and open up new opportunities within automotive design. According to 3D technology vendor Stratasys, the machines are fully color- and multimaterial-capable. Following the installation of two PolyJet Technology-based Stratasys J850 3D Printers, the Volkswagen Pre-Series-Center is 3D printing a wide range of ultra-realistic prototypes for both interior and exterior applications.

Volkswagen has over 25 years of experience with the 3D printing technology to innovate the design and production of vehicles. According to the company, this latest investment (at an undisclosed sum) allows the design team to meet Volkswagen’s quality requirements, with the capability to now create complex multi-material prototypes that mirror final production parts with up to 99% precision. This level of realism will enable the team to better test and improve overall part designs.

The J850 provides Volkswagen the ability to produce full-color prototypes in up to seven different materials varying in rigidity, flexibility, opaqueness, and transparency – all in a single print. According to sources, it is even possible to create transparent structures and thus sheets of glass in the prototypes. This saves significant time and costs over traditional multi-step design processes such as part assembly and painting.

For vehicle interiors, the Volkswagen Pre-Series-Center team is also 3D printing parts with different textured surfaces – from fabric and leather to wood. Furthermore, the use of an advanced transparent material called VeroUltraClear allows the team to replicate the clarity of glass. The ability to simulate these vehicle features with true-to-life models gives designers the creative freedom to test and perfect new designs quickly and cost-effectively.

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R&D group to unlock 3D printing potentials for automotive parts

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