© 3D-Drucker am Fraunhofer IAPT Max Oberländer

Milestone 3D-printing hits automobile industry

Bugatti and Fraunhofer IAPT using titanium in joint 3D-printed brake caliper production

Developers at Bugatti have designed a new brake caliper made of titanium that can be 3D printed, a press release said in January. Until now, mainly aluminium has been used in the additive production of vehicle components. This milestone has been reached in co-operation with Hamburg’s Laser Zentrum Nord that became part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies (Fraunhofer IAPT) in early 2018, and Bionic Production AG.

Trials for use in series production vehicles will be held in the first half of 2018. Engineers at Bugatti will be trained in additive production and then potential for additive production in Bugatti’s Chiron super sports car will be identified.

Less weight – greater performance

Bugatti and the Fraunhofer IAPT are breaking new ground with the titanium brake caliper from the 3D printer. The titanium alloy (Ti6AI4V) is used mainly in the aerospace industry e.g. for highly stressed undercarriage and wing components or in aircraft and rocket engines. The material offers considerably higher performance than aluminium and weighs only 2.9 kg compared to the aluminium component presently in use and which weighs 4.9 kg. Bugatti has reduced the brake caliper’s weight by about 40 per cent and made it stronger.

Know-how in processing titanium

“Laser Zentrum Nord is one of many scientific institutes with which we have developed very good cooperation over the years,” said Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies in the Technical Development Department of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. “Thanks to the large number of projects completed, mainly for the aviation industry, the institute has comprehensive know-how especially in the field of titanium processing and offers mature technology.” In recent years, production scientists in Hamburg have won several national and international innovation awards for their work.

Series production

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Emmelmann, formerly Managing Director of Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH and now Head of Fraunhofer IAPT, commented: “Co-operation with Bugatti is a key lighthouse project for us. We were thrilled to be contacted by Bugatti. I do not know any other carmaker, which makes such extreme demands of its products. We were pleased to face up to this challenge.”

The 3D-printed titanium brake caliper was developed in merely three months – from the idea to the first printed component. The new eight-piston monobloc brake caliper is the world’s first brake caliper to be produced by 3D printer. The engineers at Bugattti expect to be able to shorten production times especially for machining.

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