Feb 13, 2018 | By Tess

German sports car manufacturer Porsche has turned to 3D printing for the production of limited spare parts for its Porsche Classic range. Additive manufacturing will enable the auto manufacturer to create spare parts on demand for owners of classic Porsche models, for which spare parts can be difficult to come by.

Typically, spare parts for classic Porsche models are manufactured using the part’s original tools, and if a large batch of the part is required, the company will usually opt to produce new tools for the job.

There are, however, over 52,000 different parts built into the Porsche Classic range. So if a limited run of a rare part is required, and if the original tool is unavailable and the spare part inventory exhausted, car owners can be faced with the difficult realization that their beloved vehicle might no longer be able to operate.

Up until now, that is, as Porsche has started using metal 3D printers to produce limited quantities of extremely rare automotive parts. According to the company, it has conducted extensive tests with the technology to ensure that 3D printed replacement parts for its classic cars meet requirements “in terms of absolute fidelity to the original specifications—both from a technical and visual perspective.” As one would hope.

The German auto manufacturer is relying on selective laser melting (SLM) technology to make the parts, using a high-energy laser beam to melt and sinter a specific pattern onto a bed of metal powder. The pattern, guided by a CAD model, is repeated, layer by layer, until the solid 3D metal object is built up.

Porsche Classic offered an example: “Say, for example, the release lever for the clutch on the Porsche 959 is no longer available. 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. The only manufacturing process worth considering would be selective laser melting.”

Once the part is 3D printed using SLM, it is put through extensive testing, including a pressure test with a load of almost three tonnes and a tomographic examination to determine if there are any internal faults in the part. As Porsche puts it, the latest print of this lever passed “with flying colors.”

It adds: “The practical tests with the lever installed in a test vehicle and extensive driving tests confirm the impeccable quality and function of the component.”

Presently, Porsche is using 3D printing to manufacture eight other spare parts. Some of these parts are manufactured out of steel and other alloys using SLM, and some are made from plastic using an SLS 3D printing system. In addition to these 3D printed components, the automaker is also in the process of testing to see whether an additional 20 parts would be suitable for 3D printing.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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