The Volkswagen Group has a total of 14 toolmaking units in nine countries. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Waltl, cooperative ventures have been arranged for research and development. The first focus of the cooperation is the implementation of metallic 3D printing and 3D printing in the sand‑printing method. Audi Toolmaking has now used metal printing to produce all the metallic parts of the Silver Arrow model “Auto Union Typ C” on a scale of 1:2.
For this purpose, a selective-sintering laser melted layers of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimeter, roughly half of the diameter of a human hair. The process therefore allows the production of components with complex geometries, which with conventional methods could either not be produced or only with great difficulties. Audi Toolmaking is currently using 3D printing to produce components out of aluminum and steel. At present, this process can be used to produce shapes and objects with a length of 240 millimeters and a height of up to 200 millimeters. These printed components achieved a higher density than components made by die casting or hot forming.
Audi Toolmaking is regarded as a pioneer in the development of new technologies, also within the Volkswagen Group. The company’s innovations include the intelligent tool, which is used to help make more sharper contours in the sheet metal of car bodies. Lasers installed in the tool measure the position of the sheet metal while activators take corrective action.