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Audi takes Major Strides in Digital Transformation of Manufacturing with In-House 3D Printing Design Software

3D printing experts

The browser-based software is planned to be rolled out across the entire group

3D printing experts
Above: Assembly line at Audi Neckarsulm manufacturing plant/Image Credit: Audi AG

Audi’s in-house team of 3D printing experts at its Böllinger Höfe site has teamed up with trinckle 3D, a software company based in Berlin, to develop innovative design software. The aim of the collaboration is to enable all employees who need a tool from the 3D printer to design it personally without needing extensive prior knowledge.

The first project in this collaboration will be the Audi e-tron GT. It is the first vehicle for which 3D printing is an established part of preparations for series production, which means that all the tools for assembly and pre-assembly are in place at the start of production.

Audi’s In-House browser-based 3D Printing Software

3D printing experts
Above: Audi in-house 3D printing team project manager Waldemar Hirsch (right) with Hasan-Cem Gülaylar/Image Credit: Audi AG

The 3D printing experts at Audi and trinckle have designed a browser-based software to literally eliminate the need to manually sculpt models in CAD programs, which makes workflows faster as a result. Using the new system cuts design time for tools by 80%. The software is calibrated precisely to Audi’s needs and is also part of the process of digitalizing production at the site.

According to Waldemar Hirsch, the head of the team of experts in 3D printing at the Ramp-Up and Analysis Center at Audi Böllinger Höfe, “Our software makes the process of creating pre-assembly fixtures almost completely automated. That allows us to make the necessary tools quickly and flexibly and to respond to specific requests from the planners or our colleagues on the assembly line.”

In the case of the Audi e-tron GT, which is set to roll off the assembly line at Böllinger Höfe together with the Audi R8 starting in late 2020, the 3D printing experts are working closely with their colleagues from the process and assembly planning and pre-series production teams. They are already optimizing the assembly tools for the new workflows.

Hirsch explained, “Collaborative design from an early stage enables optimizations to be made earlier in the process as well. This means that all the necessary tools will already be available and calibrated to the exact requirements when production of the e-tron GT begins.”

Alongside the positive effects on operational processes, the development and use of this software represent yet further major strides in the digital transformation of the company and demonstrate the active changes taking place across all kinds of production facilities as they move toward smart factory status.

The entire Volkswagen Group is already reaping the benefits of the expertise that the Neckarsulm site has to offer thanks to regular cross-brand communication. The design software is not the first development to come out of the 3D printing Competence Center. A software application for smart management of 3D printing orders, also made in Neckarsulm, is already in use at Audi.


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