Design of the Week: VW Caddy Front End Structure

A sophisticated front-end structure installed in a classic VW

This week’s selection is an interesting 3D printed front end structure for a Volkswagen classic car.

The structure, 3D printed in metal, was a collaborative effort between several industry partners under the “3i Print” initiative. They  include:  

Altair, providing 3D design simulation software
APWORKS, GE’s 3D metal printing unit
EOS, makers of fine 3D metal printers,
Heraeus, producers of quality metal powder for 3D printing
Gerg, a German manufacturing business

The parties together designed, 3D printed and assembled this entire metal structure, which sits in the engineless front end of a VW Caddy. 

The partners developed this particular part to demonstrate the full potential of all of their technologies when combined together. 

The structure is not simply designed to hold the front end of the vehicle together, but instead incorporates a number of fascinating design features that make it not only much more functional, but also lightweight and quite strong. 

 Detail of a 3D printed metal front end structure
Detail of a 3D printed metal front end structure

The design incorporates air ducting, as you can see in the images, as well as receptacles for various sensors, which no longer require as much work to install. 

 Air ducts are visible in this 3D printed metal front end structure
Air ducts are visible in this 3D printed metal front end structure

The unusual shape of the structure is due to the simulation design, which pointed to this particular arrangement as being optimum. 

APWORKS did the printing on EOS 3D metal printers, which amounted to several parts that were subsequently welded together to form the final piece. It was 3D printed in an unusual material from Heraeus called “Scalmalloy®”, said to be a high strength aluminum. 

While this is definitely not a project you could attempt yourself, it clearly shows how different disciplines in 3D printing technology can work together to arrive at a far more sophisticated result. 

The current rapid changes in the industry mean it’s even more challenging for individuals to keep up on all the developments, so a good strategy would be to organize a network of skilled specialists from a number of related disciplines that can together work on very difficult design and printing problems. 

Via EO

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