Sports car manufacturer Porsche has made a strategic investment in 3D printer manufacturer INTAMSYS to explore more ways in which additive manufacturing technology can be developed and deployed within the automotive sector.
While the exact amount invested in the company by Porsche’s investment arm, Porsche Ventures, remains undisclosed, the car manufacturer stated that it sees 3D printing as an “integral part” of future digital manufacturing technology and is therefore deserving of “long-term and continuous” input.
With the investment, Porsche will seek to digitalize and improve its product manufacturing process and expand the application of additive manufacturing within the luxury car sector.
“Digital transformation has seeped into every aspect of production and daily life, and is listed as one of the core issues in Porsche’s operation strategy,” said Jens Puttfarcken, President and CEO of Porsche China. “Porsche plans to boost the actual application of additive manufacturing technology, and leverage the significant innovation potential of 3D printing in terms of both product and process to offer customers more flexible production and customization services.
“We are honored to support INTAMSYS as an important partner on Porsche’s digital transformation journey, as they help fulfill our vision of the future.”
Porsche’s 3D printing adoption
While the move marks the automotive brand and manufacturer’s “first foray into additive manufacturing” in an investment sense, its holding company and controlling shareholder of the Volkswagen Group, Porsche SE, has previously invested funds in 3D printer manufacturer Markforged, demonstrating the group’s confidence in the technology’s promise for automotive applications.
As such, Porsche has been experimenting with 3D printing’s potential for some time. Since 2018, the company has been 3D printing a number of metal and plastic spare parts for its rare and classic cars as a more cost-effective means of part replacement.
The firm has since partnered with machine tool producer TRUMPF and automotive parts company MAHLE to 3D print pistons for the engine of its flagship 911 supercar, and has worked with 3D printer manufacturer SLM Solutions to print a proof of concept E-drive housing, designed for use on the front axle of its sports cars.
Porsche has also developed its own 3D printed personalized bucket seats, featuring 3D printed cushioning and backrests with customizable stiffness settings. The bucket seat was initially limited to a 40 prototype run for use on European race tracks in 2020, before becoming available to order for specific models of the firm’s Boxster, Cayman, and 911 supercars in October 2021.
Investing in INTAMSYS
Since its entry into the 3D printing sector in 2016, INTAMSYS has become known for bringing high-performance polymer 3D printing to the desktop through its FUNMAT PRO and FUNMAT PRO HT systems. The company has a comprehensive portfolio of industrial-grade polymers, including PEKK, PEEK, ULTEM, PPSU, and PSU, available through its on-demand manufacturing service.
INTAMSYS’ machines have been leveraged by the likes of ABIGO Medical to plug a delivery gap of spare parts, and have been installed by the Dutch Navy to improve its on-demand spare part manufacturing capabilities.
2021 has seen the firm close a number of funding rounds, the first in February from which proceeds were used to further its product development and expand its European and American operations, and the second last month, which saw Porsche’s participation. According to Porsche, INTAMSYS has “achieved a breakthrough” in the small-scale production of automotive parts and components, which prompted the investment.
“We are excited to see that our product and vision are recognized and supported by Porsche,” said Charles Han, CEO of INTAMSYS. “In the future, we at INTAMSYS will continue our close cooperation with Porsche to develop more innovative products, expand the application of additive manufacturing and empower the digital manufacturing transformation of the automotive industry, in a bid to benefit more customers with high-tech solutions.”
Porsche hopes its strategic investment in INTAMSYS will help Porsche to digitalize and improve its product manufacturing process, in line with the firm’s plans to expand its application of 3D printing. The company’s aim is to become a “digital mobility solution provider” within the luxury car segment, and it sees additive manufacturing as an integral part of this vision.
As the automotive sector gradually undergoes a digital transformation and adopts more intelligent technologies, Porsche sees the rapid deployment of 3D printing playing a key role in the digitalization of companies active in this space. Additionally, the manufacturer has identified the technology opens up “new possibilities” in the development and manufacture of small-series parts and components.
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Featured image shows Porsche has made a strategic investment in INTAMSYS. Photo via Porsche.