German luxury automotive manufacturer Porsche is 3D printing spare parts for
rare and classic cars to ensure customer care and
Using a combination of SLM 3D printing for
metal parts and SLS 3D printing for plastic parts and tooling,
Porsche has added a number of spare parts to its catalog,
ensuring that its cars will drive on for longer.
3D printed filler cap.
Photo via Porsche.
Cost-effective part replacement
Since Porsche Classic cars are highly sought after as
collector’s items, any particular series may have a short
production run. Manufacturing and storing many spare parts for
these cars does not make financial sense given the low demand,
raising difficulties when spare parts are needed for classic
The Porsche Classic range currently includes around 52,000
parts, and when a particular spare part from the original
production is depleted, specific tooling is required to
reproduce these parts. Large batches require more tools,
while small batches may not justify tools being created at all.
Successful testing and spare part expansion
Porsche tested a 3D printed spare parts initiative with the
discontinued release lever for the clutch
on the Porsche 959, a high-quality low batch component from a
rare collector’s sports car.
The SLM 3D printed
lever met the requirements of the
original component after meeting a pressure test (with a
load of almost three tonnes), a tomographic examination for
internal faults, and a practical test.
The company has since introduced eight further plastic parts to
its digital spare parts library including a filler cap, a crank
arm, and a brake part. SLS 3D printed plastic parts in this
range are subjected to performing tests, and some must be
resistant to oils, fuels, acids, and light.
A further 20 parts are planned for the immediate future as a
pilot run, though the run has the potential to reach across a
much larger portion of the manufacturer’s product range.
3D printing as a cost-effective solution
Automotive manufacturers are increasingly using 3D printed
parts or tooling, and now Porsche has followed
suit. Volkswagen has annually saved $160,000 by
3D printing tooling components for its Autoeuropa factory
assembly line in Portugal.
Similarly, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is running a
Digital Spare-Part Initiative, producing components that,
compared to die cast alternatives have 100% density and greater
Sister company Daimler Trucks is now SLS 3D printing spare
On the assembly line itself, Ford is using on-site 3D printing in
next generation SUV development. As a result, the time taken to
replace broken tool or manufacturing parts for the the Ford
Escape and Lincoln MKC has been slashed from weeks to
Together with Ford’s new computing and data analytics systems
at its plant in Louisville, Kentucky, plant workers can now
download spare part designs, and make tools for specific
operations, moving from concept to object in two hours. 3D
printing has also dramatically reduced the $250,000 it has
sometimes taken to manufacture a prototype.
Tooler Wayne McKinney 3D
prints a specialist tool at the Ford Louisville plant. Photo via
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Featured image shows the Porsche Classics range. Photo via