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Audi and EOS start development partnership focused on holistic approach for metal-based additive manufacturing

Audi AG has started a development partnership with EOS, a global provider of high-end Additive Manufacturing (AM) solutions. The EOS consulting division “Additive Minds" is supporting Audi in the holistic implementation of this industrial 3D printing technology and the development of a corresponding 3D printing center in Ingolstadt.

Audi recognized early on the potential of additive manufacturing for the automotive industry, and now promotes the application of the technology, working closely with EOS. For Audi, toolmaking and the casting technical center for planning are leading applications. Industrial 3D printing is first being applied to equipment and prototype building at Audi, as well as motor sports, where the technology is already in use today.

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With a building volume of 400 x 400 x 400 mm, EOS M 400 allows the production of large metal parts on an industrial scale – directly from CAD data and with no need for tools. (Audi AG) Click to enlarge.

Using industrial 3D printing, Audi can revolutionize the process of toolmaking. When the component geometry or assemblies are very complicated, the technology will make possible the production of geometries that would have to be joined in conventional manufacturing. Here, 3D printing has an advantage. The design determines the production; not the other way round.

We have set up our own competence center for 3D printing in order to gain experience with the materials and the process, and to further develop them for series production. A close cooperation with AM solution providers such as EOS, who can support innovation in technology development, is essential for these aims. With this technology we are able to integrate internal structures and functions in tools that we have not been able to create so far with conventional manufacturing methods. Especially with components in small batches, we can now produce components using lightweight construction, quickly and economically based on this technology.

—Jörg Spindler, Head of Toolmaking, Audi

In application of additive manufacturing, Audi is also focusing on the production of inserts for die casting molds and hot working segments. The company can positively influence the process of series production by conformal cooling, producing parts and vehicle components more cost-effectively.

This is made possible by using highly complex, additively manufactured cooling channels, which are tailored to the component and could not be implemented conventionally before. Specifically, the optimized cooling performance leads to a reduction of the cycle time by 20 percent which has a positive effect on the energy consumption and cost efficiency of the components at the same time.

The aim is to not only supply Audi with the right additive systems and processes but to also support them during applications development, when building up internal AM knowledge and training their engineers to become in-house AM experts.

—Güngör Kara, Director of Global Application and Consulting

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