Bentley Motors has been at the forefront of using 3D printing and additive manufacturing as key parts of their design and engineering process. Bentley takes elements from their standard manufacturing processes, scales them down to models and now, they’re building parts for full-scale concept cars. Last February we broke the news that the company had been using 3D printing to fabricate 1/3rd scale models of their vehicles using Stratasys 3D printers. Now it appears that Bentley has stepped things up a bit further.
The founders of Bentley Motors, Walter Owen Bentley and his brother, Horace Millner Bentley, once made their living selling French cars during the years before World War I, but their ultimate goal was to design and build a line of cars of their own, and by 1921, Bentley Motors Ltd. produced their first automobile. It featured a motor designed by a former member of the Royal Flying Corps, and the ensuing line of cars became synonymous with understated luxury and precise attention to detail and craftsmanship.
The design for the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept car at the Geneva Motor Show is both a harbinger of things to come and a demonstration of the impact additive manufacturing will have on the future of how high performance sports and sedans will be built.
Based in Crewe, UK, the British manufacturer says 3D metal printing technology was used to fabricate a variety of the concept car’s functional parts.
The car is bleeding-edge in every way, and the 3D metal printing technology was used to create parts like the iconic grille mesh, exhausts, door handles and side vents. Each part features the micro-scale precision you’d expect from a Bentley. The classic Bentley mesh grille, no longer a flat plane of latticework, now includes complex geometry and varying depths, and the Bentley’s quilted interior leather pattern inspired a three-dimensional texture placed on the glass used in the headlamps.
“It could be a future model line, alongside the Continental GT and redefining the pinnacle of another market sector, and the styling of the EXP 10 Speed 6 could influence the expansion of the Bentley family,” says said Bentley chief Wolfgang Dürheimer. “This is not just a new sports car concept – but the potential Bentley sports car – a bold vision for a brand with a bold future.”
Dürheimer says the knurled surfaces Bentley is famous for are now created using steel and copper together to create a bimetal, 3D textured surface, and adds that using 3D printing machines, allowed the design team to quickly create and test how different parts will function and appear.
Bentley designers say they test a wide variety of materials and their properties to build nearly any part used on the iconic vehicle’s interior and exterior, and those tests have included wheel rims and tires, tail pipe trim and more.
What do you think of the EXP 10 Speed 6? Let us know in the Bentley Motors and AM forum thread on 3DPB.com.