Audi has taken a break from previewing future headlight and indicator stalk designs with its 3D printing facilities to ‘print’ a 1:2 scale model of one of its most famous racing cars.
The Auto Union Grand Prix "Typ C" racer from 1936 goes by several names, as was the style at the time, but “Silver Arrow” is perhaps the most common.
Besides being a bit of fun - and the scale model certainly looks like it would be fun to drive - Audi’s Prof. Dr Hubert Waltl said the model represents Audi’s “pioneering role in toolmaking”.
Today, it’s a scale model of the Silver Arrow. Tomorrow, says Audi, the carmaker will expand its 3D printing capacities to manufacture complex car components from metal and other materials.
"We are pushing forward with new manufacturing technologies at Audi Toolmaking and at the Volkswagen Group," Dr Waltl said.
"Together with partners in the area of research, we are constantly exploring the boundaries of new processes. One of our goals is to apply metal printers in series production."
Audi has entered into partnerships with various 3D print technology providers to further the development of the manufacturing techniques, with the focus for now being sand-print and metallic 3D methods.
To build the Silver Arrow, Audi says it used “a selective-sintering laser melted layers of metallic powder with a grain size of 15 to 40 thousandths of a millimetre”. Or to put it another way: roughly half of the diameter of a human hair.
Audi Toolmaking currently uses aluminium and steel to build components with 3D printing, but in its early days, the maximum sizes of components are 240mm long and 200mm high.
Early results are promising, however, with Audi saying components build using 3D printing achieved a higher density than components made by die casting or hot-forming.
The Volkswagen Group has a total of 14 toolmaking units in nine countries.