Aug 29, 2017 | By Benedict

Altair, APWORKS, csi entwicklungstechnik, EOS GmbH, GERG, and Heraeus have joined forces for 3i-PRINT, an engineering platform for research and development of innovative prototype concepts. The group has 3D printed the front end structure of a Volkswagen Caddy.

We’ve seen a fair few 3D printed cars in our time, but never before have we seen large numbers of well-known manufacturers come together for a single project. That’s just one of the reasons why this 3D printed front end of a VW Caddy, made by the new 3i-PRINT platform, is so special.

Bringing together experts from a number of companies and fields, 3i-PRINT says it “aims to demonstrate future technological possibilities,” acting as an “agile engineering platform for research and development enabling innovative prototype concepts.” Demonstrating and exploiting the most current manufacturing methods, 3i-PRINT is therefore primed to implement new ideas to the highest standard.

To demonstrate just how well the 3i-PRINT platform can work, the big-name companies involved with the project have put together a very special item. Over a period of just nine months, the parties oversaw the design, simulation, optimization, manufacturing and post-production of a 3D printed front end structure for a vintage VW Caddy in candy apple red.

“We are proud to present the Caddy with an exemplary new additively manufactured front end structure,” said Stefan Herrmann of csi entwicklungstechnik. “The new structure and the contrast between old and new impressively demonstrates the potential that 3D printing and functional integration offer, particularly for the automotive industry.”

If this doesn’t convince people that 3D printed cars are the future, what will?

“In view of the growing trend towards electrification in the automotive sector, for example of drive train and actuators, heat management as well as the reduction of design space and overall weight were crucial points when designing the front end section,” 3i-PRINT reps explain. “Moreover, structural requirements relating to vehicle safety, performance, and comfort needed to be addressed.”

To deal with these objectives, the 3D printed front end is equipped for both active and passive cooling: channeled airflow cools batteries and brake systems, while functions linked to heat management, passive safety, and fluids storage are integrated in the “organic, load-driven design” of the front end.

The result of the group’s work is the “world’s first all-metal, additively manufactured, functionally integrated vehicle front structure on a scale of 1 to 1 using the latest technical standards.” The 3D printed frame weighs just 34 kg, and is made from a special alloy called Scalmalloy, developed by APWORKS.

Designing the front end required a lot of work, including 3D scanning an original VW Caddy to get the right specs for a new design.

Of course, what you might be wondering is just how so many companies shared the workload on a fairly small (at least, in terms of the dimensions of the final product) project. Here’s a quick overview of how they contributed:

csi entwicklungstechnik 

The German automotive company helped design, develop, and build the front end structure of the Caddy. It was responsible for connecting the 3D printed components and the creation of the final frame. “Metal additive manufacturing in body-in-white design already works today,” the company explained. “We wanted to make 3D printing graspable.”


The engineering software company focused on the development and application of simulation technology to synthesize and optimize designs and processes. Its software solutions were used to design, optimize, simulate, and develop the structure.


The Airbus subsidiary, which had previously worked with Altair on this incredible 3D printed motorcycle, was responsible for the final dimensioning of the 3D printed parts. It contributed its knowledge of 3D print preparation and handled the actual additive manufacturing of the structural elements.


German industrial additive manufacturing specialist EOS contributed an EOS M 400 3D printing system for APWORKS to use.


The metal powder company supplied and qualified the high-strength aluminum alloy Scalmalloy®, developed by APWORKS, to manufacture the components.

Modell- und Formenbau Blasius Gerg

The German automotive company contributed the frame assembly and post-processing of the single components.

They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but in this case, each party appeared to contribute exactly what was needed to make the exciting 3D printing project a success.

"I would…like to emphasize the agile, time-efficient route from the initial idea to the fully converted vehicle, which was completed within only nine months,” Herrmann enthused. “Each of the participating companies is a leader in its field. The outstanding collaboration and combined expertise has made the 3i-PRINT project a resounding success.”

The partially 3D printed Caddy will be on display at the Converge 2017 exhibition in Essen and the giant formnext 2017 show in Frankfurt.

The vehicle hopefully won’t be the last project developed with the 3i-PRINT platform, and—if the group itself is to be believed—it won’t be: “3i-PRINT is an open platform for collaboration, where we also like to materialize your ideas.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 8/30/2017 7:32:35 AM:

kinda seem like an overkill to 3D print a tubular chassis. Looks amazing tho.

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