Additive ManufacturingAdvanced MaterialsAutomotiveMaterials

Project Chaos redefines hypercars with generative 3D printed ceramic, metal and composite parts

While also redefining the very idea of distributed advanced manufacturing

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Greek drag sportscar tuner Spyros Panopoulos set out to redefine the very idea of hyper-car, with Project Chaos and some very extreme 3D printing. The very definition of hypercar that recently has come to be used to describe custom sportscars that are one step beyond “factory-line” standard supercars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Needless to say, 3D printing has played a major role in transforming more hyper-car projects into realities. As more advanced materials such as ceramics and composites become available for 3D printing, the level of performance that can be attained moves a few notches higher, to what Panopoulos calls an “ultracar”.

That’s why Panopolulos believes that either the term hypercar is abused or that a new term needs to be created to describe his Project Chaos. And judging by some of the specs – such as 3000hp – 12.000rpm redline version (with “anadiaplasi” ceramics 3D printed pistons & carbon fiber rods) – he may be right. The only issue is that some could argue that thermal engines may soon become a thing of the past – and then again, with oil prices collapsing lately, they might not: electric engines may generate power more easily, but there are undoubtedly advantages in a fine-tuned, ultra-high-performance combustion engine.

Project Chaos
At the top, ceramic 3D printed pistons, probably one of the most impressive features ever seen in a car. Below, composite 3D printed piston parts and a generatively designed brake caliper.

“Project Chaos,” will come in two versions. Both use a 4-liter V10 engine, designed and milled out of billet aluminum in-house, featuring 20 injectors, 40 valves, titanium camshafts, titanium/Inconel valves and massive twin turbochargers made from carbon and titanium, with ceramic compound turbine wheels.

In the video above, Panopulos is taking a journalist on a tour of his Greece-based customization facility. showing off some incredible looking generative parts, 3D printed using both composites (both chopped fiber and continuous fiber ones) and technical ceramics, likely alumina. The journalist is shocked that there is a local firm in Greece that can 3D print ceramic parts. The truth is that nothing could be easier: with a relatively modest investment in the order of a few hundred thousand euro (which is very little for advanced industrial machinery) a 3D printing service or ceramic part manufacturer can install and operate the most advanced ceramic 3D printers in the market. Composite 3D printing is even more affordable. And metal 3D printing is fully consolidated, with new challenges emerging mostly in part design.

Project Chaos
A titanium 3D printed piston.

As New Atlas reported in great detail, Panopoulos has been developing a proprietary brand of generative, or evolutionary design, which he refers to as “anadiaplasi” process, in which a component “forms its own form according to the forces exerted on it.” Basically a form of FEA and simulation-based design, such as the ones we are increasingly seeing working with or within most major CAD and CAE software.

In generative design a component’s fixed points, stress loadings, materials and desired performance characteristics are analyzed and placed into a CAD model, and then sent to a cloud processing service where they are randomly mutated over thousands or even millions of generations to identify the best fit.

In anadiaplasi, the better-performing designs are allowed to multiply and evolve while the worse ones die off, and eventually, complex but effective shapes emerge that could never have been designed by hand. They typically offer extreme strength, lightweighting, and minimal use of materials in a manufacturing process that can only be achieved with 3D printing due to their strange, organic-looking forms. Panopolulos produced pistons, valves, brake calipers and exhausts using this method, to an extent that not even Bugatti – possibly the automotive firm that has done the most work with additively manufactured generatively designed parts – has yet been able to achieve.

In the video, Panopoulos states the car will be aerodynamically ready for speeds above 500 km/h (310 mph), with electric car level acceleration (which kind of makes one wonder why not go with electric in the first place). The car is also using non-3D printed prepreg woven composites of course. These include the monocoque chassis made from Zylon, a thermoset composite stronger than Kevlar and used for F1 cockpits and SpaceX parachutes (among other things). For sure this makes it a timeless piece, and an example to follow for many future applications of AM and advanced materials in automotive.

Zylon, a thermoset composite stronger than Kevlar and used for F1 cockpits and SpaceX parachutes.

To learn more about the possibilities offered by 3D printing with advanced materials such as technical ceramics, composites, high-performance polymers and refractory metals you can view or download 3dpbm’s newest eBook on Advanced Materials Additive Manufacturing.


Research 2021
Ceramic AM Market Opportunities and Trends

This market study from 3dpbm Research provides an in-depth analysis and forecast of the ceramic additive ma...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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  1. I’ve been in the advanced ceramics industry for a very long time, lived through ‘Ceramic Fever’ in the ’80s when the prediction and target was we would move towards all ceramic engines, and hundreds of millions and probably billions were invested pursuing that. Did extensive work on ceramic fiber/whisker reinforced metal matrix composite piston heads and connecting rods (GM told us our connecting rods would be in the ’96 model year–oh well). The problem with all ceramic engine components is that they are sensitive to any minute (micron scale) flaw in the microstructure–which makes any printed part especially suspect for this kind of application–and fail catastrophically. The ceramic connecting rod above is strictly an (impressive) demonstration piece with no practical application, especially if it is alumina. I would say probably the same for the piston as well. Certainly I would not want to ride in a car with such components as can be currently produced. You do have to go through these kinds of iterations in R&D, and the anadiaplasi design process is very intriguing, but this is still early R&D. A ceramic part is not a one to one replacement for a metal one.

    1. Thank you very much for this input. Very interesting. Not sure if it adds anything to the discussion but ceramics AM technologies have come a long way in the past couple of years

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