How 3D Printing Helps Create Unique Automotive Parts

The possibilities of 3D printing from aluminum are just the dream of car manufacturers and re-enactors when it comes to low-volume or custom production. Brands such as Koenigsegg and Bugatti officially use printed parts when assembling cars to order. Wheel manufacturer HRE uses a 3D printer to bring to life the most incredible designs, and Porsche is actively printing parts to replace long-lost elements of vintage cars.

Another area where three-dimensional metal printing was appreciated was auto-tuning. Stefan Papadakis of Papadakis Racing ordered an intake manifold for his 2020 Supra sports car - by the way, equipped with a 1000 hp engine. He needed a single copy and he personally went to the factory for it, along the way filming a fascinating documentary video.

Parts on a 3D printer are printed from aluminum powder, layer by layer, with a step of only about 15 microns. This is a rather long process, and the camera of the printer is limited, so large objects are printed in parts, after which they are welded with conventional welding. Cleaning of the parts is also required, as well as fine refinement when fitting other components. The whole process of working on the collector took two days, tests of the finished product showed that it was identical in strength characteristics to the original products.