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EOS & Audi Explore Metal 3D Printed Tooling Applications

Metal 3D Printing Centre
Above: EOS M 400 system in the Metal 3D Printing Centre at Audi in Ingolstadt/Image Source: Audi AG

EOS, world’s leading technology supplier in the field of industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers, and AUDI AG, a leading manufacturer of premium vehicles, revealed that they have taken their development partnership to a new level where they are relying entirely on industrial 3D printing at its Metal 3D Printing Centre in Ingolstadt for the production of 3D printed tool segments.

Audi will be creating 12 3D printed tool segments of four tools for hot forming. However, it is planning to 3D print a large number of segments additively. Currently, Audi uses EOS M 400 system to manufacture the tool segments used in its press shop to make body panels for models including the Audi A4. The company plans to do the same for future electric vehicles. 

3D Printed Tool Segments

3D Printed Tool Segments
Above: Illustration of a topology-optimised, 3D printed tool segment with optimised cooling/Image Source: Audi AG

Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President EMEA at EOS, said, “The latest examples show that 3D printing has become an established part of operating materials production at Audi. We’re especially proud that the tool segments made using AM are created exclusively using an industrial 3D printer from EOS. Audi is a partner we can work with to continue to drive the use of AM in automotive production – a key industry for us.”

When additive manufacturing is used at the Audi Metal 3D Printing Center, the focus is on hot forming segments and high-pressure die casting tool inserts. The design department in Ingolstadt creates entire tools, which can measure as much as 5 x 3 meters. The individual 3D printed tool segments in turn can be up to 400 mm in length and weigh as much as 120 kg. The size and complexity of the tool segments mean that construction times of up to 20 days are not uncommon, which is why the reliability and quality of the EOS M 400 3D printing system that is used are crucial success factors. 3D printing makes it possible to create highly complex cooling channels configured for the specific component within the 3D printed tool segments. This provides contoured, more-even cooling, making it possible to shorten cycle times with outstanding quality – a critical point for series production of the actual vehicle component. 

According to Matthias Herker, Technical Project Manager at the Audi Metal 3D Printing Center, “From initial qualification by EOS to internal further development and refinement of the entire process chain through to standardization of a new production method, we are now reaping the fruits of years of development within Audi’s production organization. Whenever conventional manufacturing methods reach their limit, we use additive manufacturing – which lets us meet quality standards and comply with production times.”

By shifting to creating 3D printed tool segments is an important step for Audi. This puts a lot of faith in both the quality and reliability of industrial 3D printing and the design freedom advantages this production method offers.

Since 2016, experts from both companies have been making steady progress on the use of AM, and Audi has established an ideal application in the area of hot forming for series vehicles. Several hundred thousand parts have already been produced using the 3D printed tools and installed in selected models.


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