Automotive Industry Benefits from 3D Printed Prototypes Offering Extensive Design and Manufacturing Solutions

Metal Fused Filament Fabrication (MFFF) with Ultrafuse® 17-4 PH allows WKW.automotive to create the highly accurate and strong tools needed to produce high-quality prototypes for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)

WKW.automotive is a global supplier to Automotive OEMs producing high-quality decorative and functional aluminum parts for prototypes and in serial. Cost figures, lead times and accuracy are essential for the supplier as well as the OEM who both strive for a prototype closest to the serial production part. Equally important, these tools must also be produced utilizing metals as plastic printed parts would not possess the strength or stiffness required. Through a successful collaboration with Forward AM, WKW.automotive is using the extensive capabilities of 3D printed metal materials and technology to provide innovative applications and solutions to the automotive industry 

Source: WKW Engineering GmbH

Project Breakdown

Automotive Engineering

Material / Product
Ultrafuse® 17-4 PH


Metal Fused Filament Fabrication (MFFF)

End Part:
Deep Drawing Tool

Why Forward AM?
Solution focused, offering the perfect-fit material along with technical expertise 

The Result
A functional pre-serial-tool assembly which successfully produces bended and formed aluminum prototypes parts which meet OEM requirements


As a top-tier global supplier, WKW.automotive faced several challenges. They needed to produce a tool for prototypes in an expedient and cost-effective manner utilizing internal capabilities that would meet the following requirements: 

  • Accuracy 
  • Size of the part 
  • Mechanical performance 
  • Cost per tool (including lead time) 
  • Shorter iterations cycles and implementation time 

WKW.automotive also needed to be responsive to the fast product decisions coming from OEM’s as these pre-serial- tools were essential for the following series application. This required use of internal and readily available resources, meaning both the technology and expertise, along with the Raise3D Pro2 plus, Forward AM’s innovative filaments portfolio and an extensive Debinding & Sintering network.  

Profile with drawn edges before final machining


The collaboration between WKW.automotive and Forward AM in this case brings both manufacturing expertise and new technologies to the automotive industry through the accessibility of printed metal tools with the lowest total cost of ownership to the users. Ultrafuse® 17-4 PH and Ultrafuse® Support Layer are the perfect-fit materials to print integrated shrinkage plates within the scope of one print project. This type of Additive Manufacturing is ideal for metal tools as it works with the low or limited quantity needed as well as enabling faster product implementation and go to market. 

Ultrafuse® 17-4 PH with its qualities of hardness, strength and stiffness is also a mechanically superior solution in comparison to plastics. Additional benefits to the users include an existing printer base, ease of handling and the lowest cost of metal part printing therefore making it the ideal solution for metal part production. Forward AM also provides expertise in Debinding and Sintering Services as well as the necessary post-processing solutions to polish critical areas of the printed tool resulting in a part that meets all tolerances and mechanical values required. 


Metal Forming Tool Source: WKW Engineering GmbH
Infill Structure of Printed Metal Forming Tool


A functional pre-serial-tool assembly which successfully produces bent and formed aluminum prototype parts matching all the OEM requirements while also resulting in cost savings. Ultrafuse 17-4 PH offers an efficient way to produce metal parts with high mechanical strength giving customers a high degree of flexibility and freedom. The many advantages also include: 

  • Reduced lead time 
  • Significant cost reduction 
  • Geometric freedom of design 
  • Elimination of costly production steps (such as eroding and milling) 

“By eliminating intensive production steps like eroding and milling, pre-serial-tools for prototypes parts can be realized faster and a significant cost reduction can be achieved. Geometric freedom for drawing-tools as well as shorter lead times for pre-serial-parts are further important advantages.”

Michael Hoinka, Head of Product Development WKW Engineering GmbH

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