“Weight is the enemy” was the motto of Ettore Bugatti, the founder of Bugatti. Following his mantra, he went ahead and invented weight saving means like Aluminium wheels and hollow axles for the Bugattis of his days. The company has imbibed this mantra well and continues to experiment with new materials and manufacturing techniques to reduce weight. One of the techniques being employed by the company since 2018 is 3D printing.
This is a technique where layer after layer of metal is deposited and fused using lasers. The process allows the manufacturer to produce extremely complex and thin components using exotic materials like Inconel and Titanium to save weight. These components have been used in all the new generation Bugattis which have come out. The Chiron Pur Sport, Chiron Super Sport 300+, Chiron Sport, Divo, La Voiture Noire, and the Centodieci have all used 3D printed components.
The latest component to be used is the tailpipe trim cover on the Chiron Pur Sport and Chiron Super Sport 300+. These components are made from Titanium and measure 220 mm long, 480 mm wide and 130 mm tall. However, the weight of each metallic trim is just 1.85 Kgs which is 1.2 Kgs less than the trim used on the Chiron.
3D printing allows manufacturing of extremely intricate meshes and thin walls while retaining the strength desired. For example, at the thinnest position, the wall thickness of the exhaust tailpipe trim is just 0.4 mm. Something not possible using the traditional machining processes. The components can be manufactured directly from the design drawings and thus save on the design and manufacture of various tools needed for manufacturing the components. As the process is time consuming and expensive, till now, the aviation industry is the only major user of the 3D printing technology.
Such thin walls and meshes allow designers to develop complex designs which can demonstrate the requisite strength as well as have cooling air flows through intricate mesh designs which allow these components to be used in extremely high temperature applications, something essential for a 420 km/h car producing 1500 HP in a16 cylinder engine.