Innovative pistons of a 3D printer for increased power and efficiency
Stuttgart. 3D printing technology is already used at Porsche in the construction of prototypes, the production of spare parts for classic sports cars and in other areas. In cooperation with its partners Mahle and Trumpf, the sports car manufacturer is taking a new step in the use of additive manufacturing processes for highly stressed drive components – for the first time, the pistons of the engine. high performance of the flagship 911 The GT2 RS model is now also produced with a 3D printer.
3D printing makes it possible to manufacture the pistons with a structure optimized for the loads acting on the pistons. As a result, the advanced development pistons weigh ten percent less than the forged series pistons. They also have an integrated and closed cooling duct in the crown of the piston which could not have been produced by conventional methods. “With the new, lighter pistons, we can increase engine speed, lower the temperature load on the pistons and optimize combustion,” says Frank Ickinger of the Advanced Drive Development department at Porsche. “This allows for up to 30 PS of additional power from the 700 PS biturbo engine, while improving efficiency.”
The construction of parts layer by layer allows the realization of new and improved designs
There are a number of different technologies for 3D printing. All are based on the principle that the components are built layer by layer without having to make a special tool or mold beforehand. Almost any geometric shape can therefore be produced. The printer can be supplied with design data directly from the computer. Additive manufacturing processes are therefore ideal for producing structures designed and optimized using artificial intelligence (AI). The pistons in the 911 GT2 RS were made from high purity metal powder using the laser metal fusion process (LMF). Here, a laser beam heats up and melts the surface of the powder corresponding to the contour of the part. Porsche launched the joint project with cooperation partners Mahle and Trumpf. The quality and performance of the components have been validated using the measurement technology of the project partner Zeiss.
Wide scope and potential new uses for 3D printing at Porsche
Porsche already uses additive manufacturing processes in several areas. For example, a full 3D printed bucket seat has been available since May for the 911 and 718 model series. Here, the central section of the seat, in other words the cushion and backrest surfaces, is partly produced by a 3D printer. Customers will be able to choose between three levels of firmness (hard, medium, soft) for the comfort layer in the future. Porsche Classic also uses additive processes to replicate plastic, steel and alloy spare parts that were no longer available before. An unlocking lever for the clutch of the Porsche 959, for example, now comes from a 3D printer. Twenty parts reproduced for classic Porsche models are currently manufactured using additive processes. This manufacturing technology is also technically and economically attractive for Porsche for special and small series as well as for motor sports. 3D printing therefore offers significant potential for Porsche in terms of product and process innovations, which will allow customers to benefit from fascinating and individual products.