Technology is amazing stuff and so are the incredible cars produced by French brand Bugatti.

The two are starting to converge, with Bugatti’s latest foray into 3D printing now part of the production process.

Bugatti uses 3D printing to produce tailpipe trim covers made of titanium for its newly developed hyper sports car.

It’s the first visible part to be 3D-printed in metal that is officially approved for use on the roads.

Located at the rear of the Chiron Pur Sport, the part is 22cm long, 48cm wide and 13cm high.

And it weighs just 1.85kg including grille and bracket – 1.2kg less than the cover on the Chiron.

Four 400-watt lasers simultaneously print titanium to produce the component, with a thickness of just 0.4mm at its thinnest point.

Some 4200 layers of metal powder are layered and fused together during the process.

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“Wherever possible we designed the trim cover for the Chiron Pur Sport with a single layer so as to further reduce weight,” Head of Body Development at Bugatti, Nils Weimann, said.

“The minimal material thickness in multi-layer areas is made possible by its so-called lattice structure – where the cavity is filled with numerous filigree struts.

“In this way, the walls provide stable support for each other during the construction process – enabling minimal use of material.

“We use a bionic honeycomb structure in the single-layer area to increase the surface rigidity of the walls.

“Even large components gain a high degree of surface stiffness.”

It’s not first time that Bugatti has developed components using 3D printing.

Engineers have been producing this special trim cover for the Chiron Sport and Divo since 2018.

The 2019 editions “La Voiture Noire”, the ultimate Grand Tourisme for Bugatti enthusiasts, and the Centodieci, a reinterpretation of the EB110, also make use of this printed component.

 

The material Inconel 718 – a particularly heat-resistant, hard and light nickel-chrome alloy – is used to produce a 53-centimetre wide and 22-centimetre long trim cover for the Chiron Sport.

This material is also used in gas turbines, aircraft turbine blades, space ships and transport rocket engines.

Aluminium would melt in this scenario.

The trim cover of the Chiron Sport covers four tailpipes of the six-branch exhaust system at the rear, offering not just visual benefits but technical advantages too.

With its large and sturdy tubes, it helps conduct the waste heat from the hot exhaust gases away from the rear so that no heat accumulation occurs.

Weimann said the advantage of the 3D printing process lies in the geometric shapes that are possible.

It is possible to create very finely wrought, complex forms which would tear if made using other techniques such as forging or forming.

As a result, organic geometries can be developed as if from the world of plants – there are virtually no limits.

It takes several days to print the exhaust trim cover.

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After printing material testers scan the component in a computer tomograph (CT) to detect any air bubbles.

In the case of the titanium printing for the Chiron Pur Sport and Chiron Super Sport 300+, test engineers measure the component optically using the 3D process.

Thanks to the extremely thin-walled design, air inclusions of any relevant size, can already be detected on the outside.

The cover blank of the Chiron Sport is then finely blasted with corundum and elegant protection is applied in the form of a high-temperature black ceramic paint finish.

The titanium trim covers of the Chiron Pur Sport and Super Sport 300+ retain their elegant matt titanium look.

Every component then undergoes another check – only perfect trim covers are fitted.

With the new trim covers, the exhaust systems of the hyper sports cars acquire even more harmonious contours, a more elegant design, and functional styling – all in keeping with the ideology of Ettore Bugatti:

An automobile component must be technically perfect. But it must be elegant and beautiful, too.

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Printing exhausting work for Bugatti

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.

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