Bugatti Produces Brake Caliper Using 3D Printing
The auto industry is buzzing about Bugatti’s latest achievement—producing the first fully functioning brake caliper using 3D printing technology. The eight-piston brake caliper is the world’s largest 3D printed functional component made of titanium, the same material used in the construction of aircraft undercarriages and rocket engines. It is stronger and 40% lighter than aluminum brake calipers and can withstand a force of 1223 Newtons. This piece will be used for the front axle of the 1,500 horsepower Chiron. Bugatti hopes to trial its 3D printed components for production sometime this year.
Creating the Caliper
Printing the caliper takes approximately 45 hours. Lasers slowly deposited a total of 2213 layers of titanium powder until it was finished. The caliper is then heat treated in a furnace at an initial temperature of 700 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure dimensional stability. Rough edges are smoothed using physical and chemical processes before the calipers undergo testing and fitting. The process is slow, for now, but if the experiment goes well, Bugatti’s parent manufacturer, Volkswagen, may be producing other 3D printed parts for its more mainstream Volkswagen Group models.
Is 3D Printing the Future for Auto Design Engineering?
Bugatti isn’t the first to invest in 3D printing. Swedish car manufacturer Koenigsegg unveiled the One:1 in 2014. Koenigsegg used rapid prototyping and 3D printing many of the metal parts of the turbocharger and exhaust systems. The key to building this car was weight reduction. 3D printing allowed the company to produce complex and custom internals, printed to the engineer’s specifications, which reduced its weight and enhanced its performance overall. Koenigsegg claimed the process of printing onsite and testing each component sped up the development of car design by an estimate of 20%. Printing low volume auto parts may possibly be the future for auto manufacturers.
Although most of us have little need for titanium brake calipers or titanium exhaust tips, 3D printing enables engineers to test their technological innovations safely and realistically—an exciting opportunity for creative designs to be brought to life!
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