News: 0133333790

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Porsche Found a Way To 3D-Print Lightweight Pistons That Add More Horsepower (

(Tuesday July 14, 2020 @01:33PM (BeauHD) from the engineering-flex dept.)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Drive:

> With select bucket seats from the 911 and 718 as well as various classic car parts -- including clutch release levers for the 959 -- already being produced using 3D printing, Porsche is more familiar with the technology than most. Now, the automaker is taking things even further, 3D printing entire pistons for its most powerful 991-gen 911, the GT2 RS. Although it doesn't sound like these 3D-printed pistons will actually be found in many production Porsches anytime soon, they represent a bit more than just an engineering flex. There are some very real mechanical benefits here. For starters, they weigh 10 percent less than their forged equivalents and feature an integrated and closed cooling duct in the piston crown that's apparently unable to be reproduced using traditional manufacturing methods. The decrease in weight and temperature [1]results in an extra 30 horsepower on top of the GT2 RS's already mighty 700 .


> Produced in partnership with German auto part maker Mahle and industrial machine manufacturer Trumpf, the pistons are made out of a high-purity metal powder developed in-house by the former using the laser metal fusion process, essentially a laser beam that heats and melts the metal powder into the desired shape. The end result is then validated using measurement technology from Zeiss, the German optics company best known for camera lenses.


It's about economics (Score:4, Interesting)

by MasseKid ( 1294554 )

This is not something that couldn't have been physically done without 3D printing, however it was not economical. Most car parts can be substantially improved if you don't mind a car costing $400,000 instead of $40,000. It is nice seeing 3D printing becoming affordable enough to include in car parts, even if they are luxury car parts.

Not true (Score:5, Informative)

by Wdi ( 142463 )

The reason for using 3D printing in this project is that the new piston contains optimized twisted oil-cooled channels which could not have been added by drilling into a solid block of metal, or casting.

Re:Not true (Score:5, Informative)

by SharpFang ( 651121 )

Stuff like that is doable by casting, though hard to do on bulk scale, and probably more expensive than 3D printing. You prepare the die from a material that is destructible by means the final cast is not, say, a reactive metal that can be dissolved in a kind of acid that won't damage the piston.And obviously you must produce a new die for every single piston you make, can't cast a thousand of them in one die like in normal casting. So they aren't inventing the wheel here, they just apply a new technology that is rapidly becoming affordable, to a problem that had a prohibitively expensive solution.

Re:Not true (Score:5, Informative)

by Smidge204 ( 605297 )

Except now you have case aluminum pistons heads, instead of billet or forged heads. Cast aluminum isn't as strong since you need to use specific alloys for good quality parts, meaning you'd need to use more material, and you'd have to watch out for internal stresses and shrinkage that all castings have problems with.

If something like this could have been done, then it would have been done already even if it was ridiculously expensive... high performance motorsport has deep pockets for R&D and a ~5% boost in power is not something they would pass up trying for.


Re: (Score:2)

by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 )

It is most likely not a new technology but an old one: laser sintered 3D printing.

German engineer are doing 3D printing since 30 - 40 years.

Hobbyist small scale "maker" 3D printing, that is relatively new.

Re: (Score:2)

by MasseKid ( 1294554 )

That's not true. This could be investment cast, it would just be exceedingly expensive.

Re: (Score:2)

by Luthair ( 847766 )

There is a company called CZinger which has developed a prototype supercar similarly - [1] []


Re: (Score:2)

by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

The Porsche Taycan, their first EV, is very good. Best handling of any EV, decent range, fastest charging of any EV. Rather expensive but it is a Porsche I guess.

Hopefully they continue to develop that technology and move away from fossil fuels.

Re: (Score:2)

by spth ( 5126797 )

It is not their first EV.

Their first EV was the P1 in 1898.

Re:It's about economics (Score:5, Informative)

by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

Not true. The specific design absolutely can't be done without 3D printing. In many cases your alternative is only to forge and drill which puts serious constraints on the *internal* design of a semi-solid object. You can't machine them this way (physically not possible), you can't forge them this way (physically not possible).

It's not just economics. 3D printing metal has opened up new possibilities for internal construction which literally have no other possible alternative when a requirement is to maintain a single solid piece of metal in the end.

3D printing decisiÃn time. (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Quick, cheap, durable.

Pick any two, that's what you will get.

Re: (Score:2)

by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

> Quick, cheap, durable.

> Pick any two, that's what you will get.

That comment has only ever applied as a trade-off to using a technology available. It has never applied to technology improvements or new technologies being developed.

I'll take all three, just as I constantly have. Hell my last car is cheaper, more durable, and rolled off the production line faster than the Ford Model T ever did. And don't be under the delusion that laser sintering somehow makes parts less durable, depending on application you most definitely get both the cheapest, fastest and most durable

Re: (Score:2)

by Ogive17 ( 691899 )

It is absolutely possible. You can 3D print the mold negative (1 time use) that is then melted away (or dissolved) once the piston cast is complete.

Re: (Score:2)

by ranton ( 36917 )

> This is not something that couldn't have been physically done without 3D printing, however it was not economical.

Well they did say it couldn't be reproduced using traditional manufacturing methods, not that it was impossible without 3D printing. There is probably nothing 3D printing can do which is literally impossible without 3D printing. It is simply a manufacturing method with its own set of pros and cons. Almost every story we ever see that says 3D printing has made something possible is really saying 3D printing has made something economically feasible.

Although I guess a slightly different reason is when 3D print

Re: (Score:2)

by Sique ( 173459 )

There are things you can't do without 3D printing of some sorts: Internal holes for instance without a connection to the outside world. You could try something by forging different layers with the holes previously cut out together, but that is just another way of 3D printing it: with pre-printed layers, and for practical reasons, you have to resort to some minimum thickness for the layers, which makes the resolution of the result worse and costs more material for the same strength.

Re: (Score:2)

by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 )

> This is not something that couldn't have been physically done without 3D printing, however it was not economical. Most car parts can be substantially improved if you don't mind a car costing $400,000 instead of $40,000. It is nice seeing 3D printing becoming affordable enough to include in car parts, even if they are luxury car parts.

I would guess as the tech matures it will become cheaper and make its way into more cars; I remember being at a trade show 20 years ago and seeing a demo of a 3D printing setup designed for use by deployed military forces. When I asked them about the quality vs. normal parts they said they are equal or better. Then, cost was not the issue but the ability to produce a part to satisfy a need without having to load a one off part on a plane and ship it; saving a significant amount of time.

Re: (Score:2)

by Jaime2 ( 824950 )

Mass produced vehicles will probably never do this. Forging is an excellent way to produce pistons, and forging is well suited to high volume for several reasons: initial cost is high, but unit cost is low and production rate is very high. The four percent power boost will never be worth it for a engine that is produced by the tens of thousands.

Re: (Score:2)

by sconeu ( 64226 )

This part IS for a $400,000 car.

Just the Start (Score:5, Interesting)

by ytene ( 4376651 )

On the one hand, I suspect that this is just the start of what can be done with 3D printed metal parts for engines and other high-stress environments. Bugatti have successfully 3D-printed brake calipers from titanium, for example, again getting better strength for less weight.

And imagine what it would be like to be able to 3D-print an engine block and head, which means that all the oil and water ducting could be perfectly formed, examined "in build" and tuned and flowed perfectly.

On the other hand: I really feel that we should be transitioning to EVs now. That doesn't mean that we should stop this sort of R&D, but maybe we should take a look at how we prioritize R&D for internal combustion engines. On balance, I guess we should applaud this: "more power" can probably also be read as "same power for less fuel".

Re: (Score:2)

by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

This isn't really new in the manufacturing world, it's just new specifically to pistons. There are already several major mechanical equipment producers using 3D printing processes in their production equipment. The off the top of my head I can think of is Rolls Royce who have been 3D printing components of their Advance engines.

It's not like this technology can't also be used for EVs. I mean technically Tesla used 3D printing in their cars ... though to fix a minor design flaw in a piece of plastic rather t

Re: (Score:3)

by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 )

Although I share your opinion about electrical propulsion, I think the heavy batteries will remain a show-stopper for commercial aviation for a long time. But this could make aviation engines lighter and probably even improve the weight of electrical engines. I can imagine that synthetic fuels, made from carbon dioxide and water, and combustion engines are the most viable option for aviation.

Re: (Score:2)

by lazarus ( 2879 )

Porsche is putting a lot of R&D into materials science right now. They recently invented a new brake rotor using thin layers of [1]tungsten carbide [] which is a nice middle ground between iron rotors and carbon ceramics.

re: EVs. A lot of this development is flow-through. Lighter rotors make a big difference (unsprung weight) to fuel economy / range for instance.


Re: (Score:1)

by mi ( 197448 )

We're talking about Porsche here, the company, which vied for Wehrmacht contracts during WW2 and supplied Hitler with some of the more [1]famous killing machines [] — and you are harping about Trump?


No one would ever confuse the two (Score:2)

by Somervillain ( 4719341 )

Trumpf actually makes things. They don't just slap their name on other people's buildings, "universities," vodka, steaks, etc. Couldn't be more opposite.

Nothing about Densification? (Score:2)

by sonoronos ( 610381 )

When it comes to sintered processes, there are two keywords you have to look for:

1. Densification - sintered objects as-sintered have low material density. This negatively affects material properties, because there's low mechanical adhesion between grains. Densification (forging, pressing, rolling, cold or hot isostatic pressing), is used to increase the density and radically improve mechanical properties of as-sintered objects.

2. Heat treatment - sintered objects require some sophisticated heat treating,

Re: (Score:3)

by sremick ( 91371 )

I doubt they are sintered. That's just used for prototypes. Likely they're using Selective Laser Melting, which is different and fully melts the metal together.

[1] []

Electron Laser Melting is a similar process, but TFA does explicitly mention lasers.


Re: (Score:2)

by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 )

Right. Only English people should be allowed to speak English.

Re: (Score:1)

by mi ( 197448 )

DF? I'm talking about curious traits — including my own — and you're taking a social justice stance?

Everyone can use whatever language — just do it correctly, and read (much) more than you write...

Re: "Unabled to be" - I sense foreign English (Score:2)

by BAReFO0t ( 6240524 )

You should speak properly, no matter where you're from!

And properly does NOT mean "correct". But unambigious, clear and understandable without any parsing detective guesswork! (", ya lazy fucks!", he added...)

As a foregner, I know this is a hard task to do though. As you barely have* any feedback about the mental association structures of native speakers, and even they themselves usually know those key parts only intuitively, and can't put them into written rules.

This is why a friendly correction is always

Tech Stolen by: (Score:1)

by douglasfir77 ( 6439950 )

The Chinese last month. You will soon see economical, quality 3D printed pistons for every car on the road today on ebay in just a few weeks.

Replacment cost (Score:2)

by sinij ( 911942 )

I am glad Porsche pioneering work, but I wouldn't want to be an early adopter of this technology. Cost of pistons, plus increased chances of having replacement short block when one of these pistons grenades the engine as a result of stress fracture. Last but not least, what is going to happen when sludge forms inside oil passages?

Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

> Last but not least, what is going to happen when sludge forms inside oil passages?

If you aren't willing to tear down, clean and rebuild your engine every 10,000 miles to keep it at top operating efficiency, you don't deserve to even own a car.

Re: (Score:2)

by sinij ( 911942 )

Exactly. Rod bearings is a maintenance item on some M BMWs. Why would I expect anything different from Porsche?

Re: Replacment cost (Score:1)

by BAReFO0t ( 6240524 )

Pah, if you didn't forge your own car from bare rock that you dug up with your naked fingers, squeezed liquid in you buttcheeks, and ground with your eyelids, you don't deserve to even think about cars!

Buggy Whip (Score:2)

by backslashdot ( 95548 )

This is like inventing a better buggy whip in the year 1900.

Pistons? (Score:2)

by Bruce Perens ( 3872 )

Pistons? We don't need no stinking pistons! Next thing, they'll be adding a bridle and a bit!

Re: Pistons? (Score:1)

by BAReFO0t ( 6240524 )

But you need lithium and other nasty chemicals that go up in flames if they even touch water or even air.

We should have gone fuel cell. Gasoline has an unbeatable energy density. Synthetic gasoline is pure and can be made cleanly. Fuel cells convert the energy cleanly. CO2 can and should be recovered and recycled.

It's really the smart choice.

But hey, "people" are buying iPhones and fixies and voting DemocRepublicratan, so what do I know...

Re: Pistons? (Score:2)

by Bruce Perens ( 3872 )

Lithium battery fires are in the news because they are new. There are many more gasoline fires every day.

Re: (Score:2)

by Sique ( 173459 )

Fuel cells are just a very inefficient way to use electricity in cars. Yes, the storage density is great, but that's about it. Instead of 95% energy efficiency as with accumulator batteries, you are at 40%. And you know that recovering and recycling CO2 costs at least as much energy as you got from in the first place?

Shitty sintering is shitty. (Score:2)

by BAReFO0t ( 6240524 )

You can see it with tools. And gears.

Sure, it is usable, but sintered stuff always breaks easier, doesn't last as long, and generally the crystal structure is Chinesium-grade.

The main reason it's done, is actually that it's much cheaper.

Too Little, Too Late (Score:2)

by 0xG ( 712423 )

This is truly the final golden age of ICE cars. Just about every manufacturer makes a 700 HP vehicle. With computers controlling traction, suspension, steering, fuel burning, comfort, entertainment, navigation, safety features, etc.

However the next generation of cars and trucks will be electric, just about anyone can see that (although some are still in De Nile).

Re: (Score:2)

by Joe2020 ( 6760092 )

That's just your perception. You don't actually expect progress to stop at one technology and somehow jump onto another. Progress drives everything and progress in a technology only ends when the technology has been made obsolete by another technology.

So for example do people make bows and improve their designs, because these are still used in sport, even when guns and rifles have obsoleted their use as a weapon a long time ago.

And as long as we keep pumping up oil and refine it will there be combustion eng

+#if defined(__alpha__) && defined(CONFIG_PCI)
+ /*
+ * The meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Plus
+ * this makes the year come out right.
+ */
+ year -= 42;
-- From the patch for 1.3.2: (kernel/time.c), submitted by Marcus Meissner