The Audi Pre-Series Center with its Plastics 3D Printing Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, will leverage a full-color, multi-material 3D printer from Stratasys, the Stratasys J750, to enhance its design process and accelerate design verification. For the production of tail light covers, Audi reports that it expects to reduce prototyping lead times by up to 50%.
Prior to a vehicle entering production, the Audi Pre-Series Center in Ingolstadt builds physical models and prototypes for the brand to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly. This requires allocation of most parts of the vehicle in an early stage of product development, such as wheel covers, door handles and radiator grills. The use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi Pre-Series Center, enabling the team to overcome limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification.
In the case of tail light covers, the team traditionally used milling or molding to produce individual parts. The main challenge with these production techniques is the multi-colored covers of the tail light housing. These individual color parts must be assembled, because they cannot be produced in one piece. This time-consuming process increases lead times for design verification and delays time to market.
Color, Multi-Material Prototyping Boosts Design
The Audi Plastics 3D Printing Center will use Stratasys’ J750 full-color, multi-material 3D printing to enable production of transparent, multi-colored tail light covers in a single print. With over 500,000 color combinations available, the team can 3D print transparent parts in multiple colors and textures that meet the requirements of the Audi design approval process.
“Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development,” explains Dr. Tim Spiering, head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Center. “As a result, we need prototypes to have exact part geometries, no distortion and extremely high quality, as well as true-to-part color and transparency. The Stratasys J750 3D Printer will offer us a significant advantage, as it allows us to print the exact textures and colors our design defines.
“Using the J750 for the prototyping of tail light covers, we will be able to accelerate our design verification process,” continues Spiering.
Dr. Spiering and his 24-member team are responsible for providing all plastics 3D printing expertise, advice and production at Audi. Having invested in its first Stratasys FDM 3D Printer in 2002, the division has since grown its portfolio to ten polymer 3D printers, including a range of Stratasys FDM and PolyJet 3D Printers.