Automakers are experimenting extensively with 3D printing for all variety of automotive parts from simple interior trim pieces to parts as complex as brake calipers. Porsche is taking the technology a step further by experimenting with 3D-printing engine internals.
Mahle, a German parts supplier, and Trumpf, a 3D printer manufacturer, helped Porsche make 3D-printed pistons that can survive in a high-performance engine. The company 3D-printed a set of six pistons for the 911 GT2 RS with high-purity metal powder using what it calls a laser metal fusion process. Heat generated by laser beams melts the powder surface into a pre-determined shape, so this is far more advanced than your neighbor’s kid’s 3D printer.
Although this might sound like a PR stunt, Porsche explained 3D-printing pistons offers several significant advantages. Each piston’s structure is optimized, so they weigh 10% less than comparable forged pistons, and they feature a closed, integrated cooling duct that wouldn’t have been possible to add using another technique.
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