Porsche is the latest automaker to experiment with 3D printing. The German sports car brand announced on Tuesday that it believes the technology will make personalization of car seats easier.
Just as racing drivers have custom-fitted seats, Porsche believes 3D printing will allow seats to be made for individual customers. Initially, Porsche will offer hard, medium, and soft firmness levels. But as the technology develops, the automaker hopes to increase the level of personalization, eventually designing seats for individual drivers' body contours.
The new sport seat is based on one of Porsche's existing lightweight bucket seats, and only part of it is 3D printed. A layer of 3D-printed polyurethane sits on top of a polypropylene base to form the cushions, which are attached to a standard seat frame.
Porsche 3D-printed seat
The seats will be available through Porsche Tequipment as driver's seats for the 911 and 718 Cayman/Boxster beginning in May, according to Porsche. Just 40 prototype seats will be manufactured at first. These will be designed for use on European racetracks, in combination with six-point harnesses, the automaker said.
Porsche plans to begin offering a street-legal version of the seat in 2021, although it's unclear if the seat will be available in the United States.
In addition to Porsche, Ford and Volkswagen have discussed using 3D printing for smaller components, while Local Motors previously 3D -rinted the entire body of a small electric car.
The most ambitious exercise in automotive 3D printing currently in the works is likely the Czinger 21C, a supercar with most of its major components 3D-printed. However, the 21C is priced at $1.7 million, so it's not exactly relevant to ordinary car buyers.