Selective laser sintering (SLS) 3d printing is a form of Additive Manufacturing in which Lasers are used to bind extremely small particles of metal powder together and build solid structures. Many companies are experimenting with this technology as it allows them the freedom to makes parts in smaller quantities and without the use of extremely expensive mold cavity used in conventional manufacturing. Audi added to the list of every increasing early adopter’s when they used the same technology to make 1:2 scale version of their legendry Auto Union Type C car with a full scale driver seat on it.
Audi Toolmaking unit which is a division of the German automobile manufacturer has made a 3d Printed replica of their Auto Union Type C which was a Grand Prix racing car made in 1936. This car was made to further enhance Audi’s 3D Printing and manufacturing capabilities and was an initiative taken in cooperation with their parent company Volkswagen.
Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, a member of the Audi’s Board of Management Member for Production and Head of Toolmaking at the Volkswagen Group said “We are pushing forward with new manufacturing technologies at Audi Toolmaking and at the Volkswagen Group. Together with partners in the area of research, we are constantly exploring the boundaries of new processes. One of our goals is to apply metal 3D printers in series production.”
With this replica 3D Printed car Audi formally announced their experiments with Metal 3d printing and sand-printing technologies. The company wants to grab the opportunity to use the amazing technology and gain from its advantages. The company announced that all the metal parts including the chassis and the body of the "Auto Union Typ C", was metal printed.
Audi is currently working with Metal printed that can print using Aluminum and Steel powder, and can produce objects up to 240mm long and 200mm tall. The company announced that 3D Printed metal parts printed for the car had complex geometries which were extremely difficult to make using traditional methods and the final product had higher density when compared to equivalent parts.
Metal 3d Printing is being used by many automotive companies because of the advantages mentioned above, and Audi seems to be doing the catching up task as companies likes Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and others have already publicly announced their roadmap for making 3D Printed car parts. A Few weeks ago Ford launched their own 3d model store where people could pay a small sum and download 3d printable scale models of their cars or could get it printed from them. But I feel it’s never too late especially in the case of 3D Printing.
Type C Car was built by Auto Union in 1936 as a part of types A to D cars which were developed and built by a specialist racing department of Auto Union's Horch works in Zwickau, Germany, between 1933 and 1939. These cars had V16 engines, which were later replaced by V12s engines, Auto Union managed to win 25 races using these cars at Grand Prix racing and the cars they used were nick named Silver Arrows.