Porsche punches up performance with 3D printed pistons

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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