May 6, 2016 | By Benedict

From A8 to AM: German car manufacturer Audi has purchased an all-in-one SLM 280HL 3D printer from SLM Solutions after an “extensive exchange of information” at SLM’s Lübeck HQ. The printer will be used to create aluminum parts at Audi’s Department for Technical Development in Gießen.

Staying true to its statement of intent about 3D printing of metal parts back in November last year, Audi is now in pole position to further its additive manufacturing expertise after representative Kay Sauber engineered an exciting deal with SLM Solutions for the acquisition of an SLM 280HL 3D printer. The SLM 280HL is an all-in-one selective laser melting machine with a build envelope of 280 x 280 x 365 mm—large, although not as large as this WNLO SLM 3D printer. Standing at almost ten feet tall, the SLM 280HL will be used by the research and development division at Audi’s Department for Technical Development, and will also be put to use for certain SLM metal production processes.

Audi’s Department for Technical Development, situated in the German town of Gießen, focuses on developing and testing new casting technologies and materials, such as light alloys, for the pressure-casting process chain. This research contributes to the development of body, chassis, and transmission components, and concerns both Audi’s in-house developed parts and purchased parts. At the Gießen site, the iconic car manufacturer has its own casting technology center, where aluminum and magnesium casting alloys are processed, from the pre-development and prototyping stage, all the way up to the in-house batch production. In recent years, additive manufacturing has become an essential part of the division, with a focus on the materials, technology, and process parameters of 3D printing contributing to the company’s growing interest in the manufacturing technique.

The newly acquired SLM 280HL 3D printer will be integrated into the existing development and production process at Audi, with the machine to be used primarily for the processing of aluminum parts. The large SLM 3D printer will come equipped with one or two fiber lasers with 3D scanning optics, depending on Audi's preference, and can purportedly deliver an 80% higher build rate compared to similar machines, with max printing speeds of 55 cm3/h. The selective laser melting system, which offers a variable layer thickness of 20 µm - 75 µm, also uses a patented multi-beam technology and up-to-date software, which supports production-oriented data preparation for specific applications and highly optimized building processes. 3D printing on the SLM 280HL is carried out under an inert gas atmosphere, with the machine using a gas filtration process and double valve system to ensure maximum security and a decrease in gas consumption.

According to Audi, the ultimate aim for the new SLM 3D printer “is the efficient production of topology- and process-optimized products in small batches and thus [the maximization of] Vorsprung durch Technik.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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