Through its 14 toolmaking units in nine countries the VW Group is exploring the implementation of metallic 3D printing for producing automotive components in aluminum or steel.
A selective-sintering laser melted layers of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimeter, roughly half of the diameter of a human hair.
The process therefore allows the production of components with complex geometries, which with conventional methods could either not be produced or only with great difficulties.
At present, this process can be used to produce shapes and objects with a length of 240 millimeters and a height of up to 200 millimeters. These printed components achieved a higher density than components made by die casting or hot forming.