The Integration of AI and 3D Printing: The New Volkswagen

AI Designed and 3D Manufactured

The bright orange components of the new Volkswagen retrofitted 1962 Microbus are hard to ignore. The components are very complex yet incredibly lightweight. VW, the German automotive manufacturer, has trained Artificial Intelligence to change how car components are made and is manufactured resulting parts are 3D printed. The modern, electric version was recently showcased at its Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC).

The orange parts are Generatively Designed shapes. They include the steering wheel, side mirror supports, and even the wheels. By training AI, VW engineers can use the Generative Design program to focus on their priorities and as the technology meets these criteria, a lightweight yet structurally sound design is produced. The parts look a lot less modern chic – with straight edges and hard lines – and a lot more like tree roots.

Auto Industry and 3D Printing

As any vehicle is composed of thousands of parts, 3D printing can only produce some of these parts, certainly not all of them. The VW team of researchers, designers, engineers, among others are working together to find out which of the parts can be effectively replaced with 3D printing. The use of Artificial Intelligence will aid them in flagging those potential parts.

VW has big plans for the future. The manufacturer will use technology to create a closed-loop recycling system that will use plastics from old components to create new ones. This is good news for the environment as it will save fuel resulting in less waste. What VW has proved is that using AI and 3D printing in car design results in more flexible designs, lightweight parts and, of course, financial gains.

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