For the first time, Porsche has produced the complete housing of an e-drive using 3D printing. True to the motto “lighter, stiffer, more compact,” the motor-transmission unit produced using the additive laser-melting process passed all quality and load tests without any problems.
Falk Heilfort, Project Manager in the Powertrain Advance Development department at the Porsche Development Centre in Weissach (Germany) comments: “This proves that additive manufacturing with all its advantages is also suitable for larger and highly-stressed components in electric sports cars.”. It is conceivable that the optimised electric drive could be used in a limited-edition super sports car, for example.
More Lightweight Than Conventionally Casted Part
Engineers in the Advanced Development department were able to carry out several development steps at once with the prototype. The additively manufactured alloy housing is more lightweight than a conventionally cast part, and reduces the overall weight of the drive by approximately 10 %. Thanks to special structures that have only become possible due to 3D printing, the stiffness in highly stressed areas has nevertheless been doubled. Another advantage of additive manufacturing is the fact that numerous functions and parts can be integrated. This considerably reduces assembly work and directly benefits part quality.
3D printing opens up new opportunities in development and manufacture of low-volume parts. Porsche is intensively driving forward the use of additive manufacturing for optimisation of highly-stressed parts. A few months ago, new printed pistons successfully proved themselves in the 911 GT2 RS high-performance sports car. The housing for a complete electric drive now developed also fulfils high quality requirements. In the same housing as the electric motor, the downstream two-speed gearbox is integrated. This highly integrated approach is designed for use on the front axle of a sports car.