It doesn’t get much more luxurious than driving a Bentley. That is, unless you’re driving a Bentley with 3D printed gold features. That’s part of what makes the new Bentley Mulliner Batur such an exclusive automobile. It is the second highly exclusive coachbuilt model from the brand’s Mulliner division, “the world’s oldest coachbuilder.” A key detail is the 18-carat gold, 3D printed “Charisma Dial” centerpiece, the first of its kind in the industry.
The Batur coupe runs on a W12 engine, making it the most powerful vehicle yet made by Bentley. The vehicle is being produced at a limit of just 18 units, relying on traditional techniques and bespoke personalization. Fitting into Bentley’s Beyond100 strategy for reaching carbon neutrality by 2030, the company is deploying technology meant to be more sustainable. This includes not only “low-carbon” leather but also 3D printing.
The Charisma Dial that wraps around the start-stop button on the center console takes the stage in the new vehicle, but the Organ Stop vent controls and an insert marker on the steering wheel are also 3D printed from 210 grams of yellow gold. The metal was sourced from recycled jewelry from the Jewelry Quarter in Birmingham, UK.
To produce the parts, Bentley Mulliner worked with Cooksongold, an expert at 3D printing precious metals for the jewelry market. In fact, goldsmith is one of the very few companies with a specialty in 3D printing gold and other precious metals. That is likely to change, as the benefits of the technology become more widely known.
More importantly, as material resources become increasingly scarce, 3D printing will become the most economical way of producing goods. Already ideal for short-run manufacturing, as used in this lot of 18 vehicles, 3D printing is able to waste fewer materials and seems primed for relying on recycled feedstocks. Therefore, in a resource-scarce world, it will be the go-to process for producing goods, luxury or otherwise, because all goods would be a luxury. This may explain why Chrysler is using AM for such an extensive part of its $300,000 CELESTIQ vehicle.
For all of those reasons, the true star of this story is the recycled metal that is being 3D printed. The editions of Batur made in 2022 will receive an additional Jubilee insignia in honor of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. All 18 units of the grand tourer have already sold out, presumably to British nobility and their fans. While the base price was a cool £1.65 million ($2.01 million), the gold, 3D printed options would have cost more.
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