Audi has used the VW Group’s 3D printing tech to create a half-scale model of its 1936 Auto Union Type C Grand Prix sports car. The tiny Type 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 Type 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.
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.
Audi has been showing how 3D metal printing techniques could be used in car production, by creating a replica of the Auto Union Type C sports car.
3D printing is a process of manufacturing where layers are gradually built up to create an object.
3D printing using plastic is very common, but printing using metal less so, although the technique is similar.
To create the 1:2 model, Audi Toolmaking used a laser to melt a metallic powder with grains half the diameter of a human hair (each one 15-40 thousandths of a mm) and gradually built up layers.
3D metal printing has many benefits. Objects have a higher density than those made by traditional techniques such as die casting. Complex pieces are easier to make than by using conventional methods.
At the moment shapes and objects 240mm long x 200mm high can be printed using aluminium and steel.
Audi’s overall goal is to use metal printers in series production.
The Auto Union Type C was built in 1936. It has a V16 engine and could reach speeds of 211 mph.
Local Motors 3D printed a car called the Strati live at the International Manufacturing Show 2014. Unlike Audi, which used metal, the Strati was made from plastic and used the battery, motor and suspension of a Renault Twizy. Watch the Strati come together in the video above.