SLM Solutions looks back on years of experience in 3D printing solutions for the automotive industry. But what does it take to successfully print automotive parts? And what are the main use cases?
Metal additive manufacturing technology is accelerating industrial development in the automotive sector and offers numerous advantages. On the one hand, scalable on-demand local-for-local supply chains can get products to market faster and reduce costs. On the other hand, additive manufacturing can lead to improved performance and functionality of parts.
Selective laser melting (SLM) can be used primarily to bridge the gap between prototyping and series production. Pioneer and metal additive manufacturing partner SLM Solutions looks back on years of experience in 3D printing solutions for the automotive industry. But what does it take to successfully print automotive parts? And what are the main use cases?
Robust Machines and Material
To successfully print parts, robust and reliable machines are required. SLM Solutions’ SLM 500 offers excellent features for industrial series production in the automotive industry. As the first quad-laser system on the market, the machine is ideally suited for the rapid cost-effective production of large metal parts. The multi-laser overlap strategy with up to four 700 W lasers ensures maximum efficiency. The ability to change the build cylinder minimizes machine downtime, maximizes productivity and reduces cost per part.
Equally important is the right choice of metal powder. SLM Solutions offers various alloys, for example, aluminium alloys, nickel alloys, and titanium alloys, that ideally fit to the requirements of the automotive industry. Furthermore, SLM Solutions develops new materials and parameters with customers.
Another technology from SLM is the NXG XII 600. Equipped with 12 overlapping 1 kW lasers and a build envelope of 600x600x600 mm, the machine sets new milestones in terms of productivity, size, reliability and safety, and paves the way to the future of manufacturing. Productivity is further enhanced through variable beam spot, bi-directional recoating, laser balance and an optimized gas flow while a closed environment maximizes operator safety.
One company that has already tested the productivity of the NXG XII 600 is Porsche. The Porsche advanced powertrain engineering department also focuses on large powertrain applications, such as e-drive housings, cylinder blocks, and cylinder heads, to name a few, in additive manufacturing. In a proof of concept with the SLM NXG XII 600, a complete e-drive housing with an innovative AM design was successfully printed. Porsche sets high quality demands on the part: A permanent magnet motor with 800 V operating voltage delivers up to 205 kW (280 hp). The downstream two-stage transmission is integrated in the same housing and drives the wheels with up to 2,100 N-m of torque. This highly integrated approach is designed for use on the front axle of a sports car.
All the advantages of additive manufacturing have been implemented in this housing, such as topology optimization with lattice structures to reduce the weight, functional integration of cooling channels, higher stiffness and reduced assembly time by the integration of parts as well as improvements in part quality.
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