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July 16, 2020

Porsche 3D Prints Pistons for 911 GT2 RS

3D printing technology is already used at Porsche in prototype construction, manufacturing spare parts for classic sports cars as well as in other areas. In cooperation with its partners Mahle and Trumpf, the sports car manufacturer is now establishing a new milestone in the use of additive manufacturing processes for highly-stressed drive components—for the first time, the pistons for the high-performance engine of the 911 flagship model, the GT2 RS, are now also being produced with a 3D printer.

3D printing allows the pistons to be manufactured with a structure that is optimized for the loads acting on the pistons. As a result, the pistons from the advance development project weigh ten percent less than the forged series production pistons. They also have an integrated and closed cooling duct in the piston crown that could not have been produced by conventional methods.

With the new, lighter pistons, Porsche can increase the engine speed, lower the temperature load on the pistons, and optimize combustion. All in all, it makes it possible to get up to 30 horsepower more from the 700-horspower bi-turbo engine, while also improving efficiency.

There are a number of different technologies for 3D printing. All are based on the principle that the components are built up layer by layer without the need to previously manufacture a special tool or mold. Practically any geometric shape can therefore be realized. The pistons of the 911 GT2 RS were manufactured from high-purity metal powder using the laser metal fusion process (LMF). Here, a laser beam heats and melts the powder surface corresponding to the part contour. Porsche initiated the joint project together with cooperation partners Mahle and Trumpf. The quality and performance capability of the components were validated using measurement technology from project partner Zeiss.

Porsche already uses 3D printing on various parts such as bodyform full bucket seats for the 911 and 718.

Porsche Classic also uses additive processes to reproduce plastic, steel, and alloy spare parts that were previously no longer available. A release lever for the clutch of the Porsche 959, for example, today comes from a 3D printer. Around 20 reproduced parts for Porsche classic models are currently manufactured using this process. This manufacturing technology is also technically and economically interesting for Porsche for special and small series as well as motorsports.

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