In yesterday’s article I described the issue of proper preparation of models for 3D printing for the production of architectural mockups, indicating that one of the main problems in this area is the lack of elementary knowledge of designers and architects how to do it well. This problem is of course much more common than architecture and often constitutes the basic barrier in the popularization of additive technologies among employees of a given enterprise. One of the German Audi plants decided to address this problem by creating software that will allow workers to design tools printed in 3D and used on the production site when assembling Audi e-tron GT cars in a simple and accessible way.
The program was created in cooperation with 3D printing specialists from the Audi Böllinger Höfe factory and the IT company trinckle from Berlin. Its task is to enable each employee to quickly and easily prepare a design of tools that will then be 3D printed without any problems with 3D printers. Employees do not need to have specialized knowledge in the field of CAD design or 3D printer support – the software is so intuitive that it will take them through the entire process without major problems. Importantly, the program works from a web browser.
The software reduces design time by 80%. This is how Waldemar Hirsch – project manager at Audi describes it:
Our software makes the process of creating pre-assembly fixtures almost completely automated. That allows us to make the necessary tools quickly and flexibly and to respond to specific requests from the planners or our colleagues on the assembly line. Collaborative design from an early stage enables optimizations to be made earlier in the process as well. This means that all the necessary tools will already be available and calibrated to the exact requirements when production of the e-tron GT begins.
An example of such designed and printed instrumentation is the tool for the pre-assembly of air conditioning compressors and cooling lines. All components must be aligned with extreme precision during assembly. Previously, it required the help of another person – now a specially designed mounting device with an integrated clamp keeps all elements in the right position. 3D printing uses materials such as plastic and fiberglass composites, and ESD class filaments (resistant to electrostatic discharge).
The software is currently used mainly at Audi Sport GmbH in Böllinger Höfe, but it is planned to be introduced in the entire Volkswagen Group.