Porsche is making it easier to repair your vintage machine by 3D-printing replacement parts.
3D-printing is becoming all the rage in the automotive industry. The manufacturing process is set to turn old molten metal molding into a thing of the past by creating high-quality components on demand and at a fraction of the price.
Porsche Classic, the heritage arm of Porsche, is now getting in on the action by offering a selection of replacement components built by 3D printers. If the issue is small and doesn’t require you to send your Porsche back to the factory for a full restore (something Porsche Classic offers) then you can request a replacement part online.
Right now, the company offers nine components that are 3D-printed—one of which is the reverse clutch from the classic 1980s Porsche supercar, the 959. However, Porsche wants to offer more in the future with the idea of using 3D printers to create replacement parts that are rare or possibly even nonexistent. They plan to produce 20 more components in the near future using the same technology.
3D printing is a lot like an inkjet, only instead of putting down a single layer of ink on a piece of paper, the printer puts layer after layer of material into a three-dimensional shape. Most home printers use plastic, but car manufacturers can actually create 3D-printed objects out of high tensile strength steel.
As with many modern technologies, lasers are involved. The printer lays down a small layer of steel dust in a particular shape and then uses a laser to melt it. Once it cools, the process begins again until the finished product emerges from thousands of layers of laser-melted steel dust.
As one might expect, the process isn’t quite as fast as your inkjet printer, but it’s certainly faster than creating an injection mold and pouring molten iron into it.
Porsche tests each component to ensure it meets the same tolerance specifications as the original.
Porsche isn’t the only manufacturer using 3D printing to create replacement components. Bugatti recently revealed replacement brake calipers using the same technology, only the brake caliper is made out of titanium. Guess when you’re a dedicated supercar maker you only go for the good stuff.