Case Study Audi reduces prototyping lead time by using 3D printing for tail light covers
With vivid colours for the Stratasys J750 3D printer, Audi hopes to quickly produce transparent, mulit-coloured parts meeting texture and colour-matching requirements of its stringent design approval process.
Stratasys announced that the Audi Pre-Series Center with its Plastics 3D Printing Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, will use a full-colour, multi-material 3D printer – the Stratasys J750 – to innovate its design process and accelerate design verification. For the production of tail light covers, Audi expects to reduce prototyping lead times by up to 50 percent.
Before a new vehicle goes into production, the Audi Pre-Series Center in Ingolstadt builds physical models and prototypes for the brand to evaluate new designs and concepts thoroughly. This requires allocation of most parts of the vehicle in an early stage of product development – everything from wheel covers and door handles to radiator grills.
Traditional methods, such as moulding and milling, are commonly used to create and replicate new designs. However, the use of plastics 3D printing has become an integral part of the automotive design process at the Audi Pre-Series Center, enabling the team to overcome limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification.
In the case of tail light covers, the team traditionally used milling or moulding to produce individual parts. The main challenge with these production techniques are the multi-coloured covers of the tail light housing. These individual colour parts must be assembled, as they cannot be produced in one piece. This time-intensive process increases lead times for design verification and subsequently delays time-to-market.