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VW Invests in 3D Printers to Enhance Auto Design

Image: Volkswagen 3D printing
World’s first full-color, multi-material 3D-printing technology will drive innovation.

Volkswagen, one of the world’s most iconic automotive manufacturers and the largest car manufacturer globally, has invested in the world’s only full-color, multi-material 3D-printing technology from Stratasys to enhance its prototyping capabilities and open up new opportunities within automotive design. Following the installation of two PolyJet Technology–based Stratasys J850 3D printers, the Volkswagen Pre-Series-Center is 3D printing a wide range of ultra-realistic prototypes for both interior and exterior applications — helping the company to drive further innovation within new vehicle design.

Volkswagen has over 25 years of 3D-printing experience to innovate the design and production of vehicles for its customers. According to the company, this latest investment allows the design team to meet Volkswagen’s stringent quality requirements, with the capability to now create complex multi-material prototypes that mirror final production parts with up to 99% precision. This level of realism will enable the team to better test and improve overall part designs.

3D printing
Using advanced VeroUltraClear material, Volkswagen can replicate the clarity of glass for its 3D-printed prototype models. (Photo: Business Wire)

The J850 provides Volkswagen the unique ability to produce full-color prototypes in up to seven different materials varying in rigidity, flexibility, opaqueness, and transparency, all in a single print. This saves significant time and costs over traditional multi-step design processes such as part assembly and painting.

For vehicle interiors, the Volkswagen Pre-Series-Center team is also 3D printing parts with different textured surfaces — from fabric and leather to wood. Furthermore, the use of an advanced transparent material called VeroUltraClear allows the team to replicate the clarity of glass. The ability to simulate these vehicle features with true-to-life models gives designers the creative freedom to test and perfect new designs quickly and cost-effectively.

Peter Bartels, head of the Volkswagen Pre-Series-Center, comments: “Volkswagen has always put innovation at the heart of everything it does, in order to develop vehicles that excite our customers and make them proud to own. To achieve this, it is essential we provide our design teams with the latest cutting-edge technologies to unleash their creativity and enable them to set the standard in automotive design. The recent addition of the J850 3D Printers offers us additional capabilities that strengthen our 3D printing operations and allow us to further optimize our design process.”

Andreas Langfeld, President EMEA, Stratasys, adds: “Volkswagen has been a longstanding customer who has always embraced the value of PolyJet 3D printing and pushed the boundaries of the technology to innovate the design process. The J850 is our most advanced system yet, offering companies the means to take their design capabilities to the next level and gain a competitive edge. We are very excited to see what creative applications the Volkswagen team can develop with this technology.”

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