The Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies IAPT (previously known as the Laser Zentrum Nord –-LZH) is hailing its very special exhibit at HANNOVER MESSE 2018 as an automotive industry milestone. A joint project between the IAPT, VW subsidiary Bugatti and Bionic Production AG has pioneered the fusion of digital engineering and production. "The collaboration with Bugatti is a groundbreaking lighthouse project for us," says Professor Claus Emmelmann, Director of the IAPT. He is clearly very proud of this development, adding: "When Bugatti approached us, we were absolutely delighted. I don't know of any other car manufacturer that places such high demands on its products. We were happy to take on the challenge." The development time for the 3D titanium brake caliper was actually very short, taking just three months from the initial idea to printing the first part.
The first step toward bringing additive manufacturing into series production in the automotive industry was to train the engineers at Bugatti in the process. Equipped with this knowledge, Bugatti then sought potential opportunities to use additive manufacturing for its super sports car, the CHIRON. One candidate component was the brake caliper, the design of which had already been optimized based on bionic principles. Bugatti was thus able to supply the LZH, as it was at the time, with a full data set for the basic concept and component calculations. The LZH performed the process simulation, designed the supportive structures, printed the part and subsequently heat- and surface-treated the component. Finishing work was then carried out back at Bugatti. The resulting 8-piston monoblock brake caliper is the first in the world to be produced using a 3D printer and is also the largest titanium functional component ever manufactured this way. What’s more, it is the largest brake caliper in the entire automotive industry. Series production is due to be trialed during the first half of 2018.