Additive manufacturing for the automotive industry

voestalpine is a reliable partner to the automotive industry for additively manufactured components made of steel.

Forming Future. Extending Possibilities.

As a novel manufacturing method, additive manufacturing (AM) has long found its way into the metalworking and automotive industries. How and where can this innovative manufacturing process be used, and what advantages does it offer? voestalpine has answers to these questions, from component development and manufacturing to the assembly of hybrid components and integration into the vehicle design.

"You have to keep an eye on it all."

What applies to driving a car is also the basic principle at voestalpine when it comes to additive manufacturing. voestalpine has developed its own low-alloy and high-alloy additively manufactured wire and powder materials and can thus meet individual customer requirements. Every common additive manufacturing process, including laser-powder bed fusion, direct-energy deposition and rapid casting are offered at voestalpine. But that is not all.

voestalpine utilizes the most common additive manufacturing processes. Image: Four-laser 3D printers
voestalpine utilizes the most common additive manufacturing processes. Image: Four-laser 3D printers

Joining high-strength steel and additively manufactured parts

Nothing is achieved with a printed part alone. Additively manufactured products must be connected to other formed components. In order to achieve the best connection, experts in the Metal Forming Division and Steel Division of voestalpine have extensively researched the behavior of additively manufactured steels in welding and mechanical joining processes. The focus of the technical experts was on joining high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels in the automotive industry. Combining the ultra-high-strength ultralight steels of voestalpine Stahl GmbH with the innovative AM processes of the Metal Forming Division produced impressive results.

We are in a position to join high-strength steels and printed low-alloy steels with common welding and mechanical joining methods.

Christian Potzernheim-Zenkel, Senior Manager Research & Development

Christian Potzernheim-Zenkel, Senior Manager, Research & Development of the Metal Forming Division, continues: “In collaboration with other divisions, we have developed novel low-alloy AM powders. For example, components that are 3D-printed with voestalpine materials can be optimally attached to sills or A pillars. Design-optimized printed nodes are ideal pipe connections in the commercial vehicle industry. Corrosion is avoided when joining high-alloy and low-alloy steels with these two low-alloy materials, and conventional corrosion protection methods can be used."

AM for prototypes and spare parts

Large-scale production will not be an issue for AM in the foreseeable future. In prototyping, however, AM is definitely an attractive option for rapid production. AM also offers an interesting alternative in the production of spare parts. These can be printed at any time, even years later, without any extra effort.

voestalpine as an AM service partner to the automotive industry

  • Support throughout the entire process from development to production
  • Consultation on component development, material selection, production route
  • Development of customized additively manufactured materials
  • Provision of all conventional additive manufacturing processes
  • Advanced joining and assembly expertise