Emerging Technology

3D Printing Investing

The Audi pre-series center with its plastics 3D printing center in Ingolstadt, Germany will leverage the first ever full-color, multi-material 3D printer.

In a bid to reduce prototyping lead times by up to 50 percent for the production of tail light covers, Audi (ETR:NSU) has adopted Stratasys’ (NASDAQ:SSYS) 3D printer.

The announcement made by Stratasys on Thursday (June 7) revealed that the Audi pre-series center with its plastics 3D printing center in Ingolstadt, Germany will leverage the first ever full color, multi-material 3D printer. Called the Stratasys J750, its aim will be to innovate its design process and accelerate design verification.

“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,” Tim Spiering, head of the Audi Plastics 3D printing center said in the release.

“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.”

In Thursday’s announcement, the companies said that the use of 3D printer will eliminate the need for multi-step process. Traditionally in the production of tail light covers, the team at Audi used milling or molding to produce individual parts with the challenge of these techniques being the production techniques of multi-colored covers of tail light housing.

“We estimate time-savings of up to 50 percent by using this 3D print technique in our prototyping process of tail light covers,” Spiering added.

The role of pre-series center is to build physical models and prototypes for the brand to evaluate new designs and concepts and this happens before a vehicle goes into production.

Although traditional methods like molding and milling were used, the use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi pre-series center.

The team at Audi has extensively used 3D printing for its Audi lunar quattro, Audi’s lunar mission.

In a blog post, Audi engineer Harald Eibisch clarified that despite the use of aluminium 3D printing for its lunar mission, it will take years for the parts to make its way into automobile production.

“Not in five, but maybe in ten to twenty years, we will be making large-scale structural parts using the 3D printer,” Eibisch said in his post.

Meanwhile, Andy Middleton, president of EMEA at Stratasys said that Audi is a prime example of how its full color, multi-material 3D printing technology can combine several process into one.

“If you extend the time-savings achieved by Audi on the tail lights to other parts of the vehicle, the overall impact on time-to-market can be huge,” Middleton said.

Following the announcement on Thursday, Stratasys was down 1.35 percent over the one day trading period with the stock closing at $19.68. On TipRanks, Stratasys has a moderate buy ranking with a target price of $21.33.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Bala Yogesh, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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