Volkswagen to introduce HP Metal Jet into long-term AM production, reduce vehicle weight by 30-40%
The rollout of Volkswagen production schedule aligns with HP’s three year rollout of the Metal Jet towards, ultimately, mass production capabilities by 2021.
At a press conference discussing the specifics about HP’s recently announced metal 3D printing system Metal Jet, Volkswagen’s head of production and technology development, Dr. Martin Geode believes that the metal AM process could relieve 30-40 per cent of the the cars weight.
The question, posed by a member of the press at the conference, was this:
“When you’re talking about competitive advantages and weight reduction in [Volkswagen] cars, do you have any idea how much weight you might save using additive manufacturing technologies compared to traditional manufacturing methods? And do you have any statistical numbers you can share with us?”
Dr. Geode had this to say:
“We have experience with the weight reduction we can achieve [in AM] comparable to well known conventional design. To give you a rough average it would be 30 to 40 per cent. It’s is what we do believe could be applicable when applying additive manufacturing,” Dr. Geode said. “This includes things on the individual part level, yes, but also on the main structural area…body structure, the chassis. These are areas that we have metal parts that could be replaced used additive manufacturing,” he said.
While Volkswagen is working with GKN—the manufacturing company HP has partnered with in regards to scalability for the Metal Jet—the company is nowhere near ready to produce intricate or large AM metal parts for their vehicles. Currently, Volkswagen is using Metal Jet for customizable parts such as individualized key rings and exterior-mounted name plates, but they do have a “production roadmap” to integrate the Metal Jet into more advanced parts. This the near future includes the production of higher performance functional parts with significant structural requirements, such as gear shift knobs and mirror mounts. Eventually, Volkswagen expects to leverage HP Metal Jet for additional applications such as the light weighting of fully safety-certified metal parts.
It’s certainly interesting to think about the potential part design that Volkswagen will be able to integrate using metal AM technology, like gears or suspension links for example.
The rollout of Volkswagen production schedule aligns with HP’s three year rollout of the Metal Jet towards, ultimately, mass production capabilities by 2021. By 2019 their Metal Jet Production Service will begin filling orders for production-grade final parts, the idea being customers will be able to upload 3D design files and receive industrial-grade parts in large quantities. HP says that the Metal Jet will begin shipping in 2020 to early customers and with broad availability in 2021. Priced at $399,000 and under (HP declined to give a more specific price point) customers can pre-order their machines as of today.
“We’re at the tipping point of an exciting new era from which there will be no return: the future of mass production with 3D printing. HP’s new Metal Jet technology enables us to expand our business by taking on new opportunities that were previously cost prohibitive,” said Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy. “Our DNA and our expertise in powder production and metal part processing using digitally networked systems will enable us to drive industrialization across the whole additive manufacturing value stream,” he said.