Porsche: Speeding Ahead in the Latest Technology
Technology improvement is an ambitious endeavor within the automobile industry, and Porsche stands out as a giant among them. Since the first conception of a motorized vehicle, the automobile industry has forged ahead year after year in developing the best of the technology available for mass production. Between the early 1900’s until today, we’ve seen everything from the first air conditioning systems, to power steering, all the way to hands free phone calls and 3D navigation. Year after year, the best and brightest models never fail to amaze consumers with amazing advances in technology both inside and out.
Porsche has been utilizing the exciting unknown of 3D printing since the mid-1990’s. As with automotive technology, 3D printing is a technology that grows and improves every single year. 3D printing has taken a massive role in education, medicine, construction, aerospace, and even with art and jewelry. Many consider it to be the future of prototyping and manufacturing, as it is used from everything from the smallest sculpture to full size bridges and houses. Porsche has been using 3D printing for parts development as well as production parts for the brand’s heritage cars. More recently, 3D printing has enabled their drivers to customize their seats in some 911 and 718 models. Through this technology, people can specify color, shape, and even firmness of these elaborately designed bucket seats.
Porsche’s most recent adventure into the world of 3D printing is miles away from their aesthetically pleasing efforts and focused more on the innerworkings of each and every Porsche vehicle. Lately, the company has been developing a 3D printed piston in the engine of the 911 GT2 RS. In fact, they just recently completed the first ever endurance test involving one of these parts. The results were very exciting for the luxury sports brand, as the 3D piston seemingly outperformed its alloy-casted counterpart.
The advantages of 3D printing technology are seemingly limitless in the world of the automotive industry. Computer simulations allow for engineers to optimize every single inch of the piston, as well as removing any unnecessary material. Additionally, they found that the 3D printed piston was of a much lighter weight, and made in a much greater detail than ever seen before with any forged piston. The piston also runs 20 degrees cooler, improving overall life and performance.
Porsche partnered with German automotive manufacturer Mahle along with Zeiss Engineering to produce these new and exciting parts. Each piston takes consists of about 1200 layers of a specialized fused alloy that takes about 12 hours each to fully print. The printer used is a high-precision specialized printer called the Trumpf TruPrint 3000, which builds each layer in .01 to .02 millimeters at a time. With a microscopic precision, six of these pistons were connected to a Porche 911 Gt2 RS 3.8 L engine to begin endurance testing with factors that would be similar to that of a race track, including high speed driving, high speed curves, long distances, and even simulated stops for refueling.
Porsche is absolutely thrilled about the overall results of the performance test. In spite of its early testing phases with no plans just yet for mass release, the engineers recognize the potential impact of their newfound ability in the coming years. Another exciting advance in 3D technology for Porsche is the possible use of copper as a printing material, which opens the door for new developments in the performance and manufacturing of hybrids and electric cars.