The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive

Different organizations like NASA have additionally been utilizing 3D printing know-how for prototypes and purposeful elements—lengthy earlier than the remainder of the world had an inkling concerning the impacts that might be made many years later in practically each main industrial software. The Continental Automotive division serves as a great instance of the lengthy evolution of 3D printing and additive manufacturing inside industries like automotive.

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive 1

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is used to print metal and aluminum. (Picture credit score: Claus Dick)

With a market cap of roughly $18.5 billion, Continental is a German multinational auto elements maker that manufactures such merchandise as electronics; security, powertrain and chassis elements; brake methods, tires, and extra. Its clients run the gamut of automotive, truck and bus corporations, together with Volkswagen, Ford, Volvo, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Porsche and others.

As with each automaker, the agency has been utilizing AM for design and prototyping functions for a while, however it’s now taking the know-how to the following stage. Simply final 12 months, the German-headquartered firm opened the competence heart for additive design (ADaM) at its Karben web site. 5 completely different 3D printing strategies are at the moment getting used at ADaM:

Selective laser melting (SLM)
Selective laser sintering (SLS)
Stereolithography (SLA)
Digital mild processing (DLP)
Fused deposition modeling (FDM)

“Virtually at each location there are a minimum of smaller additive methods, however this abundance and number of methods is barely obtainable in Karben,” mentioned Frauke Berger, web site supervisor at Continental Automotive, in a current interview.

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive 2

Website supervisor Frauke Berger presents a printed element made from plastic. (Picture credit score: Claus Dick)

Because the automotive and engineering divisions of the corporate, based in 1871, work collectively intently, they’re able to put the benefits of 3D printing into motion utilizing each plastic and steel supplies.

For Continental, this implies having fun with financial savings on the underside line, extra environment friendly manufacturing processes, ease in designing and making adjustments with out ready on a 3rd occasion, and, most significantly for a lot of industrial customers, the flexibility to manufacture extra complicated geometries beforehand unimaginable with conventional strategies.

“A serious benefit of additive manufacturing is that elements will be designed in a different way, and tasks are due to this fact approached in a constructively completely different means,” mentioned Berger.

Beforehand, the Continental crew was capable of create a extra sturdy brake caliper:

“Normally such patterns come from sand casting. It takes about 14 weeks. The printed half was completed in lower than every week,” defined Stefan Kammann, head of the Additive Design and Manufacturing enterprise section. “In precept, all weldable metals resembling aluminum, stainless-steel and gear metal, titanium or, to a restricted extent, copper will be printed.”

Plastics are often printed at Continental by way of selective laser sintering (SLS), because the crew finds it to be the quickest route, in addition to essentially the most much like ‘collection know-how.’ Supplies resembling PA12, in addition to PA6, are sometimes employed, together with polypropylene for elements like brake fluid containers.

As 3D printing and AM processes have continued to make impacts all over the world and progress on account of person’s wants, that progress has been seen at Continental, too, as software program, hardware, and supplies have been additional refined. Orders for elements that will have beforehand concerned as much as 40 hours of manufacturing time now could take as little as 60 minutes.

“Up to now we knocked the helps off the lattice platform with a hammer and chisel and needed to be cautious to not tear out any piece of the mannequin, the fabric was so agency,” says Kammann. “The method is extraordinarily exact, and we obtain good surfaces with it.”

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive 3

With Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), assist constructions are not required. (Picture credit score: Continental)

DLP printing additionally permits for the choice of 3D printing a number of elements directly, together with utilizing a number of supplies, like ABS, PLA, TPU, and different plastics.

“For this goal, a filament, i.e. a rolled plastic, is pressed by way of a scorching nozzle and utilized in sausages in a fashion akin to a CNC-controlled scorching glue gun,” mentioned Kammann. “You want an infrastructure and different applied sciences to course of, mix, and instill the elements correctly.”

Subsequent 12 months, the Continental crew is planning to finish a big order for a producer in want of 9,500 elements—all of which might be 3D printed.

The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive 4

Stefan Kammann explains how the rolled plastic is pressed by way of a scorching nozzle. (Picture credit score: Claus Dick)

Industrial customers proceed to benefit from the optimistic impacts of 3D printing and AM processes in all kinds of different purposes too resembling aerospace, dental and medical, development, and much more.

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The State of 3D Printing at Continental Automotive 5

The Continental Competence Heart for Additive Design and Manufacturing (Adam) in Karben homes numerous methods for 3D printing. (Picture credit score: Claus Dick)

[Source / Images: Automotive IT]

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