In the intersecting worlds of automotive and additive manufacturing, French luxury carmaker Bugatti and metal 3D printing company SLM Solutions can be considered something of a dream team. The two companies have been working together since as early as 2014 to redesign and optimize vehicle components using additive manufacturing. In fact, Bugatti has become an important example of how metal 3D printing can accelerate industrial development in the automotive industry.
Over the years, Bugatti has leveraged SLM Solutions’ metal AM technology to produce a range of functional parts for its sports cars, including a brake caliper that is recognized as the largest functional component 3D printed from titanium. The impressive part, produced from Ti6Al4V using an SLM500 printer, was realized in partnership with Fraunhofer IAPT (formerly Laser Zentrum Nord) and Bionic Production AG and performed admirably in tests.
Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies at Bugatti, commented on the brake caliper, saying: “Proof that additively produced metal components can cope with extreme strength, stiffness and temperature requirements at speeds of over 375 km/h with a braking force of 1.35g and brake disc temperatures up to 1,100 °C.” The 3D printed caliper also demonstrated a tensile strength of 1,250 N/mm2 and a material density over 99.7%.
Bugatti also redesigned an active spoiler bracket for its vehicles using SLM Solutions’ SLM500 3D printer. This initiative had a number of production goals: to achieve a more lightweight part, a more stylish one and a more functional one. The spoiler bracket, produced with Fraunhofer IAPT, can be adjusted in height and angle for aerodynamics and enables Bugatti’s 1,500 hp vehicle to reach speeds of 400 km/h in just 32.6 seconds and bring it back to a stop in 9 seconds.
Götzke added: “We always strive for absolute perfection, stylistic as well as technical, as well as considering the perfect synergy of both elements—the tradition of Ettore Bugatti we uphold.”
The spoiler bracket was also realized in collaboration with Siemens, which helped to optimize the bracket for production and to reduce the number of design iterations for optimizing weight and rigidity. In the end, the final part—printed from titanium—showcased a tensile strength of 1,250 MPa, a material density of over 99.7% and a weight reduction of 53%.
3D printing has also been leveraged to reinvent a small motor bracket with integrated water cooling for the Bugatti Chiron supercar. The part acts as an active heat shield, reducing transferred heat from the motor significantly. The innovative component, printed from AlSi10Mg on an SLM280 Twin, has been installed in all series vehicles since the release of the first Bugatti Chiron.
The first part produced through the SLM Solutions and Bugatti collaboration in 2014/2015 was a bionically optimized front axle differential housing part. This part was manufactured by Audi AG at its facilities in Ingolstadt and Györ on SLM280 3D printers to compare the influencing factors of printing the same part at two different locations.
Five years later and the Bugatti-SLM partnership shows no signs of slowing down. At Formnext 2018 in Frankfurt, SLM Solutions emphasized its collaboration with the Volkswagen subsidiary by showcasing eight Bugatti W16 cylinder head covers which were produced in a single print job using its SLM800.