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German Prototyper 3D Prints Motor Block From Aluminum

3D printed motor

When we talk about 3D printed cars, it’s usually the chassis that’s 3D printed. A German prototyping company went a step further: they 3d printed a functional working cylinder block. It’s even better than the real thing.

We all know we can’t carry on with our petrol-head mentality. There has to be some change in the way we use mobility. And 3D printed cars might be a step in the right direction.

Think tanks like Local Motors brought us the 3D printed car Strati or the Olli, a 3D printed bus. But in these cars “only” the chassis is 3D printed, whereas motor and wheels are manufactured traditionally.

Hoffmann Industrial Prototyping, located in Upper Franconia, Germany, managed to go a step further. In cooperation with Volkswagen, they manufactured the first fully functional cylinder block coming from a 3D printer. It was shown at Formnext 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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It took a professional 3D printer (a Concept Laser  X 1000R) 300 hours to build it. The 3D printed motor block weighs around 25 kilograms.

The 3D printed motor block wasn’t made from iron (GLJ-25), but from lightweight aluminum. There was an additional advantage: All existing CAD data could be used for the aluminum prototype.

3D Printed Motor Block: Better than the “Real Thing”

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“When Volkswagen approached us with the idea to build a complete cylinder block in a 3D printer, we were a bit skeptical in the beginning,” says Michael Dinkel, who was responsible for the project.

But the precise manufacturing paid off. The cylinder crankcase passed the practice test on a test rig of Volkswagen without any problems.

Volkswagen also carried out extensive metallurgic and geometric tests, using computer tomography to check internal geometries. It showed the 3D printed cylinder block had low porosity and significant smaller deviations from the original casted components.

The company also 3D printed other car components like injection nozzles (see below). More information here.

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