3D printing your next Porsche seat
An innovative alternative to conventional bucket seat upholstery is being explored by Porsche. Currently in the development phase, the new process partly produces the seat and backrest cushions with a 3D printer. The technology follows the principles of driver-specific seat fitting usually found in elite motorsport, allowing customers to choose between three firmness levels (hard, medium, soft) for this all-important comfort layer. In addition to an ergonomic fit similar to that found in a race car, this seat also delivers a unique design, lower weight, improved comfort and passive climate control.
The printed seat concept is based on Porsche’s lightweight full-bucket seat featuring a sandwich construction with a base support made from expanded polypropylene bonded to a breathable comfort layer. And it is this layer that consists of polyurethane-based materials made using a 3D-printer. The outer skin of the concept seat is made from ‘Racetex’ and features a specific perforation pattern for improved temperature regulation. Window panels provide a view of exposed coloured components in the 3D-printed lattice structure and give the full-bucket seat an unmistakable design.
“The seat is the interface between the human and the vehicle, and is thus important for precise, sporty handling,” explains Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche. “That’s why personalised seat shells customised for the driver have been standard in race cars for a long time now. With the ‘3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seat’, we’re once again giving series-production customers the opportunity to experience technology carried over from motor sports.”
The ingenious new design will be available from Porsche Tequipment as a driver’s seat for the 911 and 718 ranges from as early as May 2020. The range will initially be limited to 40 seat prototypes for use on race tracks in Europe in combination with a six-point seat belt, and feedback from these early customers will be incorporated into the development process.
As a next step, street-legal ‘3D-printed bodyform full-bucket seats’ in three different firmness levels and colours will be available ex-works from the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur from mid-2021. In the long term, the technology will also enable fully personalised solutions if sufficient customers express an interest. In addition to an extended range of colours, seats adapted to the individual customer’s specific body contour will then also be developed.