Porsche has begun producing rare parts for classic cars using 3D printers. The high-end car maker says all printed parts meet original specifications requirements, both from a technical and a visual perspective.
As the quality of additive manufacturing processes like 3D printing continues to improve with generally decreasing costs, this form of manufacturing presents an economic alternative for the production of small quantities, Porsche explains.
“Say, for example, the release lever for the clutch on the Porsche 959 is no longer available,” the company adds. “This component made from grey cast iron is subject to very high quality requirements, but is in very low demand – not least because only 292 of these super sports cars were ever produced.”
To print the lever, a deposit of powdery tool steel less than 0.1mm millimetres thick is applied to a processing plate. In an inert atmosphere, a high-energy light beam melts the powder in the desired locations to create a steel layer. The complete three-dimensional component is produced layer by layer.
Porsche is currently manufacturing eight other parts using 3D printing and is currently testing whether 3D printing is suitable for the production of a further 20 components.
3D metal printing will be one of this year’s cutting edge technologies, according to MIT Technology Review’s latest 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2018 ranking.