In an effort to improve lead times and innovate their design process, Audi has partnered with Stratasys to implement 3D printing technologies for tail light covers. The specific features favored by Audi are the vivid colors and range of materials offered exclusively by the J750 printer. It enables the production of transparent, multi-colored parts meeting the texture and color-matching requirements of its design approval process. This set of conditions includes over 500,000 color combinations and exact part geometries in expediting the prototype approval process.
Before a new vehicle goes into production, the Audi Pre-Series Center builds physical models and prototypes for evaluation. This effort requires the creation of everything from wheel covers and door handles to radiator grills. Traditional methods, such as molding and milling, were commonly used to create and replicate these new designs.
However, the use of 3D printing has enabled the team to overcome the limitations of conventional processes and accelerate design verification. In the case of tail light covers, the primary challenge had been the multi-colored covers of the tail light housing. The colored parts had to be individually assembled, as they could not be produced in one-piece. This time-intensive process increased lead times for design verification and subsequently delayed time-to-market.
The company states that prototyping lead times have decreased by 50 percent since incorporating the 3D printing technology.
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