Audi is constantly introducing improvements in its factories. Company is trying to provide a good working environment for its employees, to make the manufacturing process more efficient and the cars higher quality. Now German car manufacturer introduced a new generation of tools for its factories that are said to be lighter, more stable and reduce energy consumption.
When we are talking about tools of automotive factories, of course we tend to imagine wrenches and pliers. However, Audi is introducing much more serious tools used to make big car parts. Because of lightweight and composite construction methods, borrowed from car body construction, this new generation of tools is 20% lighter and 10% more stable than the previous one.
Conventional tools used up until now are made solely of cast iron, which means that they had a significant amount of weight and were not as efficient as possible with modern day technology. Now Audi managed to cut up to eight tons of weight off of these units, typically weighing around 45 tons. Of course, inevitably, cast iron was used to make this new generation of tools as well, but aluminium and plastics were used where it is possible. This follows Audi’s notion that the right material has to be used in the right place.
In order to combine these materials and ensure that tools are built with maximum precision, company had to use 3D printing. New tools are more stable, faster, more precise, more efficient and subject to less wear and tear.
Michael Breme, Head of Toolmaking at AUDI AG, said: “With this lightweight and composite construction, we are setting new standards at Audi Toolmaking. This enables us to produce even more flexible und more efficient tools with the highest quality and to further optimize our manufacturing processes.”
Tools used to form sheet metal are subjected to high levels of stress. It is estimated that in the press tool is subjected to 2,500 tons of pressure. And it is constantly repeated, which means that forces have to be equally distributed and tool has to be very stable. New generation of Audi tools uses internal structures that are arched in order to improve the transmission of forces. In fact, some of the shapes of the structural braces of the new tools are taking inspiration from nature – they look similar to leaves or the bones of a human skeleton.
Audi is probably the only car manufacturer to publicly announce so many innovations inside the factory. It shows that not only the product is important, but also how it was made. Therefore, we can expect many innovations to be introduced in Audi factories in the near future.