Continental has opened the company-wide competence centre for 3D printing at its electronics plant in Karben, Germany.
At the Karben facility, Continental has a variety of modern 3D printing technologies at its disposal. For example, the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) machine plays an important role in the production of metal parts. In a process involving selective melting of metal powder, a three-dimensional structure is built, layer by layer. Further technologies that involve using plastic include: Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which uses various plastics such as PA, PP or polystyrene; Stereolithography (SLA); Digital Light Printing (DLP) and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
The combination of a variety of environmental testing facilities and small-series manufacturing creates an ideal configuration that enables the right manufacturing technology or combination of technologies to be selected for each task.
“3D printing is becoming more and more important thanks to its many advantages. This is reciprocated by the ever-increasing demand for additively manufactured parts. With our competence center in Karben we are now able to test technologies, develop processes and procedures and roll out our production worldwide”, explained Torsten Rauch, plant manager in Karben.
The 3D printing process, also known as additive manufacturing, involves applying material layer by layer to create three-dimensional objects such as calipers, fluid reservoirs and water pumps. Whether prototypes, samples, spare parts or tools, printed components made of aluminum, for example, are now comparable in terms of durability and appearance to traditionally manufactured parts. In addition, Continental combines the entire process chain, from design to production, to rework, testing and validation, and environmental testing all under one roof.