It’s cheaper and much more efficient to print spare parts for increasingly rare classic cars.
Owning a classic car can be an expensive past time. After the high price of actually acquiring a classic car to begin with, you’ve got the ongoing costs of maintaining it and buying replacement parts. The older these classics get, the harder it becomes to find parts and they therefore get increasingly expensive. So Porsche has turned to a very modern solution to that problem: 3D printing.
It’s not just a case of keeping spare parts in stock, it may be the case that the original supplier has gone out of business or the machinery required to manufacture these classic parts no longer works or exists. As they are for rare vehicles, it may not even be financially viable to keep producing them in the traditional way.
So Porsche came up with a better solution whereby replacement parts with “absolute fidelity to the original specifications” are produced using a 3D printer.
The Porsche Classic range requires some 52,000 parts be kept available. The falling cost of additive manufacturing has meant the traditional way of producing some of these parts can now be replaced with a much more efficient alternative.
Right now, Porsche is manufacturing nine parts using an SLS printer and combination of steel, alloys, and plastic. One example of this is the release lever for the clutch of a Porsche 959, a super sports car of which only 292 were produced. The 3D printed part still undergoes the same testing as the original part and more than meets the requirements. The big difference being it can be manufactured on demand using a technique that is readily available and incurring costs that will continue to fall.
Testing is currently underway to expand the number of 3D printed parts to include another 20 components. It seems likely more and more of these parts will be produced using a printer because it makes so much sense and stops costs escalating to the point where, even the rich few who own these cars can’t afford to keep them running.