3D printing is slowly making its way into the automotive industry. More and more automakers are experimenting with the technology and we’ve already seen beautiful printed creations, including McLaren P1 wheels, Bugatti brake calipers, and custom Mini trim pieces. Some innovative companies are taking a further step forward by printing chassis components for supercars. Porsche, of course, is not going to just stay and watch the party.
The Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer has just announced its 3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat, which is still not a production part but will very soon be. The idea is simple - the central section of the seat is partly produced by a 3D-printer, which will allow customers to choose between three firmness levels for the comfort layer.
Gallery: Porsche's 3D-printed bucket seat
“The seat is the interface between the human and the vehicle, and is thus important for precise, sporty handling,” Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for R&D at Porsche, explains. “That’s why personalised seat shells customised for the driver have been standard in race cars for a long time now.”
The new 3D-printed bucket seat is based on the existing sports seat of the company. Its construction includes base support made from expanded polypropylene (EPP), which is bonded to a breathable comfort layer, which is the part that is going to be 3D-printed. The final layer of the seat from a material Porsche calls Racetex, which features a specific perforation pattern for climate control.
The automaker’s plan is to launch an initial run of 40 seats which will be available for 911 and 718 race customers in Europe from May. If the feedback is good, Porsche will include the 3D-printed seat as a regular offering from its Porsche Manufaktur catalogue from mid-2021.
Porsche presents innovative 3D-printing technology for bucket seats
Stuttgart. Porsche is revolutionising sporty seating: the company presents an innovative alternative to conventional bucket seat upholstery with the concept study “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat”. Here, the central section of the seat, in other words the seat and backrest cushions, is partly produced by a 3D-printer. Customers will be able to choose between three firmness levels (hard, medium, soft) for the comfort layer in the future. With this new technology, the sports car manufacturer is once again underlining its close ties to motor sports: the personalised sports seat follows the principles of driver-specific seat fitting customary in professional motor sports.
“The seat is the interface between the human and the vehicle, and is thus important for precise, sporty handling. That’s why personalised seat shells customised for the driver have been standard in race cars for a long time now,” says Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche. “With the ‘3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat’, we’re once again giving series-production customers the opportunity to experience technology carried over from motor sports.” In addition to an ergonomic fit similar to that found in motor sports, this seat also delivers a unique design, lower weight, improved comfort and passive climate control.
The “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat” is based on the lightweight full-bucket seat from Porsche and features a sandwich construction: a base support made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) is bonded to a breathable comfort layer consisting of a mixture of polyurethane-based materials made using additive manufacturing – in other words in a 3D-printer. The outer skin of the concept seat is made from “Racetex” and features a specific perforation pattern for climate control. Window panels provide a view of exposed coloured components in the 3D-printed lattice structure and give the full-bucket seat an unmistakable design.
The “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat” will be available from Porsche Tequipment as a driver’s seat for the 911 and 718 ranges from as early as May 2020. The range will initially be limited to 40 seat prototypes for use on race tracks in Europe in combination with a six-point seat belt. Feedback from customers will be incorporated into the development process. As a next step, street-legal “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seats” in three different firmness levels and colours will be available ex-works from the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur from mid-2021. In the long term, the technology will also enable fully personalised solutions if sufficient customers express an interest in this. In addition to an extended range of colours, seats adapted to the individual customer’s specific body contour will then also be developed and offered.