Classic car enthusiasts may lament that they just don’t make cars the way they used to, and that’s both true and not true. Yes, cars today are quite different than the collectors’ favorites that are no longer on the market, but even as new technology has changed how we design and build automobiles, newer technology like 3D printing is also allowing us to return to the past, restoring and even rebuilding some of the classic vehicles of years ago.

In an ambitious project, an all-star team of companies has worked together to design and build the front end of a vintage VW Caddy using 3D printing and other digital technology. The project, titled 3i-PRINT, took only nine months, a remarkably short period of time considering what was accomplished. The partners involved in the project included:

The goal of the project was to demonstrate the potential of industrial additive manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing techniques for applications such as, for example, manufacturing cars. The project partners wanted to show how it was possible to build the most complex portion of a car with fewer components and reduced weight as compared to traditional automotive manufacturing techniques. Several key priorities were kept in mind, such as reduction of design space and weight, as well as structural requirements regarding safety, performance and comfort.

The team at csi entwicklungstechnik, a German manufacturer of automotive components, began designing the front end of the VW Caddy with the above requirements in mind, using virtual design tools. The design also integrated several functions involving heat management, passive safety, and fluids storage directly into the structure of the organic, load-driven front end. Both active and passive cooling were implemented, and the heat and cooling management was a great example of how additive manufacturing allows for fewer components and a more lightweight construction.

“If the load carrying structure takes a part of the necessary cooling by heat dissipation through integrated cooling channels and cooling ribs, then necessary coolers or even laser-lights can be scaled down,” the team explains. “In the end this will save weight, energy and therefore saves the environment. Goals for the thermal management are e.g. the cooling of battery packs in electric vehicles or the brakes.”

Altair software was used in the design, development, optimization and simulation of the front end, and APWORKS 3D printed the necessary components using an EOS M 400 3D printer and their own high strength Scalmalloy aluminum alloy.

3i-PRINT is an open, collaborative platform that aims to demonstrate how digital technology can be used on a manufacturing project such as this one from beginning to end – from design to production. The final product is striking to look at – the bright red car contrasts with the interior front end assembly, highlighted in white. An original Caddy was 3D scanned to create the design for the new one, which demonstrates a classic look along with its cutting-edge modifications.

“We are proud to present the Caddy with an exemplary new additively manufactured front end structure. The new structure and the contrast between old and new impressively demonstrates the potential that 3D printing and functional integration offer, particularly for the automotive industry,” says Stefan Herrmann, who was responsible for lightweight design within the “body in white” team at csi entwicklungstechnik. “I would also like to emphasize the agile, time-efficient route from the initial idea to the fully converted vehicle, which was completed within only nine months. Each of the participating companies is a leader in its field. The outstanding collaboration and combined expertise has made the 3i-PRINT project a resounding success.”

The VW Caddy will be on display at Converge 2017, which is taking place on October 17th in Essen, as well as at formnext 2017, which is taking place from November 14th to 17th in Frankfurt and which 3DPrint.com will be attending. You can learn more about the 3i-PRINT project here. Discuss in the 3i-PRINT forum at 3DPB.com.

[Images: 3i-PRINT]

 

 

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