Additive manufacturing company SLM Solutions (Lübeck, Germany) has been collaborating with luxury automaker Audi (Ingolstadt, Germany), which uses SLM Solutions' selective laser melting process (an additive manufacturing process) to manufacture parts for prototypes as well as spare parts. For example, Audi uses the SLM 280 selective laser melting system to produce water adapters for the Audi W12 engine.
Selective laser melting is used systematically in the automotive industry in various areas. The biggest advantage of this process is the realization of highly complex components, which cannot be produced with existing manufacturing processes or only with high costs. As a rule of thumb, the smaller, more complex, and less cost-sensitive a component is, the more it is suitable for additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing).
The SLM 280 machines have proven to be particularly interesting in the automotive industry. The machine creates high-quality metal build parts based on 3D CAD data. Measuring 280 × 280 × 365 mm3, the machine provides a large construction space and the company's multi-beam technology. Its 700 W lasers, which expose the build field during the build process via 3D scan optics, further shorten build times.
The water adapter for the W12 engine shows that 3D printing has no limits in terms of loads. There is no direct disadvantage in the material properties, and even highly stressed parts such as pistons can be printed. Because material is applied layer by layer, a manufacturer can specifically influence the microstructure via which the mechanical properties different significantly from conventionally produced components.
For more information, please visit slm-solutions.com.