Porsche Will 3-D Print Parts for Your Classic

Porsche Classic has been using 3-D printing in order to make rare parts for classic Porsches. 

VICTOR JON GOICO - www.goico.eu

Classic cars are great to look at and can be a lot of fun to drive. Most of the time, they are easy to work on, allowing the weekend warrior and garage mechanic out there to wrench on their own. The problem with classic cars has been the availability of parts. That problem is exacerbated when you’re talking about classic imports. Porsche is trying to take some of the headaches out of classic car ownership by coming up with a creative solution to the problem. It's using 3-D printers to produce extremely rare parts that are needed in small quantities.

Its Porsche Classic division offers up about 52,000 parts for classic Porsche cars. Historically, if a certain spare part was no longer in stock, it would be reproduced using the original tooling. In some cases, the company would have to create new tooling in order to make reproduction more efficient. Creating new tooling can be an expensive process.

Take the example of the clutch release lever for the Porsche 959. Originally, this was made from grey cast iron. Setting up the factory with new tooling to cast the product, when only 292 of the 959s were ever produced, seems like a waste of time and effort.

The new 3-D printing process of remanufacturing the product involves applying a layer of powdery tool steel to a processing plate, then using a high-energy light beam to melt the powder in the desired locations to create a steel-layer. This process continues layer by layer, tested all along the way to ensure there are no internal faults in the newly manufactured part.

Currently, Porsche is manufacturing eight other parts using this on-demand 3-D printing process. Steel and alloy parts are produced using this selective laser melting process, while plastic parts are constructed using a similar process. Porsche Classic is currently testing whether the technology is suitable for the production of 20 more components. While this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the 52,000 parts the company currently offers, as the technology advances this could become the norm in the future.