Broken clutch release lever for your 959 causing you sleepless nights? Fear no more!
Fear the lasers. True, we haven’t quite got to the stage of sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, but we have got to the stage of Porsche using laser melting to rejuvenate your very old, and likely very lovely, um, Porsche. (As well as Bugatti 3D-printing a brake caliper.)
Yep, the Stuttgart carmaker has revealed that for rare, low volume spare parts for its older inventory, it is deploying 3D printing.
Let’s use the example of a release lever for a clutch on a Porsche 959. Naturally, it’s not readily available anymore. And only 292 Porsche 959s were ever built, so building a new one is a bit of a pain.
Step forward, the LASER MELTER. Here’s how Porsche itself explains it: “A layer of powdery steel tool less than 0.1mm thick is applied to a processing plate in a computerised process. In an inert atmosphere, a high-energy light beam then melts the powder in the desired locations to create a steel layer.”
The whole part is then built, layer by layer. It is pressure tested to the tune of three tonnes, so it doesn’t spontaneously crumble, Porsche saying it passed “with flying colours”. They installed the 3D printed part in a test car and drove it ‘extensively’. Well, someone’s got to.
Due to the success of this method, Porsche is 3D printing eight more parts – all steel and alloy – using the LASER MELTER, and testing a further 20 parts to see whether they’re suitable. Plastic parts are built using something called selective laser sintering.
Basically what this all means is that if you are lucky enough to own a classic Porsche and you can’t find a part for it, Porsche will deploy the lasers.
Pic 2: a 911 Speedster rear-view mirror base
Pic 3: Porsche 356 B and C exhaust heat exchanger bracket
Pic 4: 959 fuel cap gasket
Pic 5: 964 crank arm