“A complete vehicle won’t come out of a 3D printer any time soon,” Martin Goede said. The goal is to integrate printed structural parts into the next vehicle generation, Goede noted. “Over the long term, we expect to see continuous growth in lot sizes, component size and technical requirements – all the way up to components that are the size of soccer balls and are produced in lot sizes of more than 100,000 units per year,” he said.
3D printing is hardly a new technology at Volkswagen. The company has been using the process for more than 20 years now – but not in mass production. In prototype construction, 3D printing has already proven itself to be a practical, effective solution. “It would simply take too much work to make casting and press tools for components that are produced in small lot sizes,” Stache said. Not to mention the logistics and the number of work hours.