The uptick of automakers using 3D printers increases.
The latest to use the technology? Audi. The automaker and luxury subsidiary of Volkswagen flexed its muscle within the 3D printing department Thursday by producing a miniature scale model of an historical Grand Prix sports car, the Auto Union Typ C from 1936.
"We are pushing forward with new manufacturing technologies at Audi Toolmaking and at the Volkswagen Group," Professor Dr. Hubert Waltl, the head of Audi's Toolmaking, said in a company press release statement to unveil the 3D-printed scale model. "Together with partners in the area of research, we are constantly exploring the boundaries of new processes. One of our goals is to apply metal printers in series production."
Audi printed its Grand Prix mini sports car in house via its metal printers, but according to reports, it wasn't produced in one solid piece. Tech Insider reports that different pieces of the vehicle were printed first, before the scale model was put together.
According to Audi, its 3D printer used metallic powder made of steel or aluminum to create the Grand Prix scale model. From there, lasers melted the powder so they could be applied in layers and the parts could be printed.
According to the company's statement, the automaker is interested in exploring more applications of metal printers to produce such complex components.
This comes after automakers like Ford and General Motors have used 3D printers to build protoypes. Earlier this week, smaller Local Motors even announced plans to mass-produce its 3D-printed car, the LM3D Swim.