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Porsche unveils 3D printed automotive seats with custom comfort

Luxury car manufacturer Porsche has introduced a new concept for sports car seating that leverages 3D printing and lattice design. The seating concept, called “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat,” enables customers to personalize their seat for comfort and is partly inspired by seat fittings designed for professional motorsports.

While to many the outside of a car and what’s under the hood are the most important factors when choosing a car, comfort is also a crucial concern. For high-performance cars especially, the driver’s seat is plays an important role in that it can influence the driver’s handling of the car.

Porsche 3D printed seat

As Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche, explained: “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.”

The 3D printed bucket seat concept proposed by Porsche is inspired by the customizable seats in professional racing and introduces 3D printing into the mix. The “3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat” is based on a sandwich construction, which consists of a base support made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) and a customizable comfort layer 3D printed using polyurethane-based materials and lattice design.

Porsche 3D printed seat

The 3D printed layer can be customized to the driver’s preference, with three firmness levels: hard, medium and soft. The seat, which is based on Porsche’s lightweight full-bucket seat design, is covered in an outer skin made from Racetex and has a perforation pattern that encourages climate control. As a final detail, the outer skin also has window panels that let the driver see the 3D printed lattice structure within.

“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,” added Steiner.

Also notable about the innovative 3D printed automotive seating is that it is lighter than conventional car seating, while still delivering on the design, comfort and performance fronts. Porsche says the 3D printed bodyform full-bucket seat will be available as early as May 2020 through Porscque Tequipment for the 911 and 718 ranges.

Initially, the customizable 3D printed seats will be released as a range of 40 seat prototypes which will be used on racetracks in Europe, in combination with a six-point seat belt. Feedback from drivers during this prototyping stage will enable Porsche to refine its seat design and prepare to launch street-legal 3D printed seats. The automotive company expects to launch the street-legal seats in mid-2021 through Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur.

Even further down the line, and if there is enough interest from clients, Porsche plans to make its 3D printed seating technology even more customizable. In other words, customers could choose not only the firmness and color of the seat but also have the seat personalized to their specific body contour.

Find out more about how Porsche and its parent company Volkswagen are using additive manufacturing today.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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