Audi has used the VW Group's 3D printing tech to create a half-scale model of its 1936 Auto Union Typ C Grand Prix sports car. The tiny Typ C is intended to demonstrate the potential of metal printing technology in the production of complex components.
All the metallic parts of the Silver Arrow model Auto Union Typ C were printed using laser melted layers of a metallic powder. The grains in this powder measure just 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimeter, or roughly half the diameter of a human hair.
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This allows for the creation of intricate aluminum and steel components that simply couldn't be created using traditional methods. Components printed using this technique are also denser than those made using die casting or hot forming. At the moment, the company's metal printing process can be used to create shapes and objects up to 240 mm (9.45 in) long and 200 mm (7.87 in) high.
It's not just Audi that is keen on using 3D-printed components in its cars. Local Motors is looking to produce a production car that is around 75 percent 3D printed, while the Divergent Microfactories is aiming to clean up the automotive production process by pairing a 700 hp (522 kW) bi-fuel engine with an aluminum chassis that has its "nodes" 3D printed.
Head of Toolmaking at the Volkswagen Group, Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, says the company's goal is to use metal printers in the series production process.