Automotive manufacturing company Continental has opened a new 3D printing competence center at its electronics facility in Karben, Germany. The additive manufacturing center will be run by the company’s experienced Continental Engineering Services team and will serve all of the company’s divisions, producing 3D printed components both internally and for external customers.
The 3D printing facility, located in Karben near Frankfurt, spans 8,000 square meters (86,111 square feet) and houses a range of state-of-the-art additive manufacturing systems, including a number of plastic 3D printing processes (FDM, SLA, SLS and DLP) and a Selective Laser Melting (SLM) system for producing metal parts.
The Karben site also hosts a number of other manufacturing processes, including CNC machining, injection molding, laser welding and electronics manufacturing systems. In providing a broad range of manufacturing platforms, as well as cutting edge environmental testing facilities, Continental hopes that the right manufacturing solution can be found and employed for each project.
“3D printing is becoming more and more important thanks to its many advantages,” said Torsten Rauch, plant manager in Karben. “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.”
The new additive manufacturing facility will enable Continental to produce prototypes, samples, spare parts, tools and end-use components for its automotive business—which specializes in brake systems, interior electronics, automotive safety, chassis, tires and more. Notably, the facility will enable end-to-end solutions, starting with design, through to production, testing, validation and environmental testing.
“We make 3D scans of the components, edit them followed by printing them with the desired material,” explained Stefan Kammann, head of business segment Additive Design and Manufacturing within the Product Solutions division at Continental Engineering Services. “For example, we are able to produce a high-quality metal part in place of a plastic part. Furthermore, design changes can be handled flexibly depending on the product. The process lowers production costs with shorter production times.”
The German automotive company has been deepening its interest in additive manufacturing in recent years. In January 2018, the company demonstrated its commitment to industrial AM with the purchase of several EOS M 290 systems.