Bugatti refines 3D printing with accuracy up to 0.1mm

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The weight of the Bugatti Bolide is only 1,240kg, achieved in part due to its use of a number of 3D-printed components. (Image: Bugatti)

Bugatti has developed highly accurate 3D-printed components for use in one of its latest hyper sports cars, the Bolide, which was unveiled in late October.

With the help of selective laser melting, Bugatti has reduced the weight of the car down to just 1,240kg, while delivering an impressive weight-to-power ratio of 0.67kg/PS and a top speed of over 500km/h. 

These results have been possible thanks to the development of new hollow components with thin walls (down to 0.4mm) and bone-like structures that are stiffened from the inside, making them very lightweight, extremely rigid and strong.

 

The 3D-printed parts include a titanium mounting bracket for the car's front wing. With a hollow interior and a wall thickness of 0.7mm, the bracket can withstand an aerodynamic downforce of up to 800kg, while weighing only 600g. Within the car’s rear wing, the downforce of which can reach up to 1.8 tonnes at 320km/h, a printed titanium component offering high rigidity and weighing just 325g connects the central fin to the wing.

3D printing was also used to produce the bracket for mounting the steering column, the support collar for the steering column throughfeed, and the two air vents in the vehicle interior – all of which are lightweight titanium hollow structures with a uniform wall thickness of 0.5mm.

Bugatti has also taken advantage of 3D printing to include radial compressors on the ultra-lightweight magnesium forged wheels of the Bolide. Such compressors pump the air out of the wheel housings through the brakes and draw the warm air to the outside. In contrast to traditional monomaterial solutions, the Bolide components instead have a hybrid structure. This consists of a central bowl made of 3D-printed titanium with a thickness of 0.48mm, and a 0.7mm thick carbon plate with small inner blades, also made of carbon. Cross-pieces with a width of 0.48mm further increase the rigidity of the central titanium bowl, which weighs just 100g. All of this adds up to a total weight of under 400g for an individual turbofan on the rear wheels. This would not be possible with a monomaterial solution due to the fact that it is not possible to achieve the specific buckling resistance and flexural rigidity.

This mounting bracket for the rear wing of the Bugatti Bolide demonstrates a hollow, lightweight bone-like structure that is both extremely rigid and strong (Image: Bugatti)

For the spring damper elements on the front axle, the vertical contact forces are transmitted via pushrods and rockers. The 3D-printed pushrods are able to transfer force into the rockers equivalent to 3.5 tonnes while weighing just 100g each. The hollow rods have a varied wall thickness – enabled for the first time by 3D printing – that optimally adapts them to localised stress.

Lastly, in the tailpipe trim cover – a hybrid component made of 3D-printed titanium and ceramic – weight was reduced by around half compared to the already weight-optimised titanium tailpipe trim covers made in series production. The component, which measures more than 280mm in length and has a consistent wall thickness of 0.5mm, weighs less than 750g. 

While Bugatti is wielding the benefits of 3D printing for an increasing number of components in its hyper sports cars, it looks to incorperate such benefits in its production vehicles in the coming years. 

'It is the Bolide’s many technological highlights that make it so special. But these can also be transferred to production vehicles,' confirmed Frank Götzke, head of new technologies at Bugatti. 'This is what we are continuing to develop and work on...' 

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