A trend that’s gaining momentum in the manufacturing world is three-dimensional printing. For example, a startup company called Hackrod is aiming to create vehicles using 3D printers. So far, they’ve unveiled one concept named La Bandita that features a VR-designed body and 3D-scanned chassis. Porsche recently announced that they can use 3D printing to create parts that may not be available anymore.
The process is still in the testing phase, but Porsche have already been successful with parts for the 959. The car hasn’t been on the market since 1993 and only 292 were ever built, so building a new one would be difficult. The company produced a Porsche 959 release lever through a laser melting process. Porsche explained it as “a layer of powdery steel tool less than 0.1mm thick is applied to a processing plate in a computerised process. In an inert atmosphere, a high-energy light beam then melts the power in the desired locations to create a steel layer.”
After the lever was built layer by layer, it was pressure tested to make sure it didn’t spontaneously crumble. According to Porsche, the part was installed into a test car and it passed “with flying colours.” Porsche is also 3D printing eight other parts made out of plastic and steel and is looking into whether the technology is appropriate for 20 other parts. All the parts will need to meet the quality requirements of the original production period to be considered suitable. Porsche have stated the 3D printed versions usually exceed expectations.
The advances made in 3D printing have a number of advantages for classic car enthusiasts. Porsche owners will be able to keep their cars running by having a greater amount of original parts to utilise. It could also save time and money because car owners won’t have to go to great lengths to track down original parts. Manufacturers could also save money because they wouldn’t have to store expensive part-specific production tools.
Ultimately, 3D printing has the potential to revolutionise the car manufacturing industry, though a lot of research still needs to be carried out. What’s your opinion on 3D printing and do you think it could make a difference for classic car enthusiasts?