Porsche has been experimenting with 3D printing for some time now, but it's only now reaching a point with the technology where a part offered by the automaker consists of elements made with this type of printer.
Indeed, last Thursday, Porsche began offering a wraparound bucket seat (generally used for race cars or performancer sports models) for various 911 and 718 models. Widely tested on the track, the seat is now offered by Porsche Tequipment. Better yet, starting next February, it can be ordered from Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur and included in the company's online configuration tool.
The part in question is based on an existing seat made by the company, and for now, only one part of it is manufactured using 3D technology. Specifically, a 3D-printed polyurethane layer with an airy design for ventilation is laid over a polypropylene base to form the cushions, which in turn are attached to a standard seat frame. Cutouts show sections of the 3D-printed mesh structure, which is part of each cushion and can be ordered in black, red or yellow. Other colours will be added next year. The outer cover of the cushion is a grippy material called Race-Tex.
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In addition to this advancement that will find its way into production cars, what's interesting is that we can start looking further down the road. Much like the way professional drivers' seats are molded and customized, Porsche believes that 3D printing will make it possible to manufacture seats that meet the individual needs of its customers.
Eventually, it may be possible to design seats that are tailored to each buyer's body. In addition to offering consumers a new level of customization, the seat would also be 8-percent lighter than a conventional bucket.
Porsche has not yet announced pricing in the U.S., but in Europe, the seat costs 2,677 Euros.
Models that can be equipped with the seat include the 991- and 992-generation 911s, as well as the 981- and 982-generation Boxsters and Caymans.