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Bugatti expands it technological leadership with the development of highly accurate 3D printed components that will be used on the Bugatti Bolide.

23 Jan 2021 | International News : France

Imagine ultra-lightweight components that are as strong as a reinforced concrete column. Now this is possible, thanks to technology led by innovative Bugatti engineers.

The newly developed 3D-printed pushrod - a pressure-loaded coupling rod in the chassis area - weighs just 0.1kg and can transmit forces of up to 3.5 tonnes. The hollow titanium structure with internal supporting arch gives incredible strength and is another engineering breakthrough demonstrated by the expertise of Bugatti.

The shroud covering the Bolide's exhaust is only 0.5mm thick and weighs less than 750g, plus it assists in dissipating heat from the exhaust
This new project is led by Henrik Hoppe, a doctoral student in the New Technologies department at Bugatti, who has been developing innovative metal materials and manufacturing processes since 2017. He wrote his master's thesis on a calculation methodology for a 3D-printed titanium brake caliper, which is 43% lighter than the already highly weight-optimised Chiron production component, and just as rigid.

Hoppe is pioneering a new system, owing to the cost and time intensity involved with the complete cycle of the manufacturing process chain. Hoppe uses this system to identify the commercial and technological potential of functional 3D-printed metal components for automotive manufacture, and can enhance this potential with applied targeting at specific parts. 

Bugatti routinely uses this innovative 3D printing technology to enhance components with complex three-dimensional structures. The French luxury manufacturer applies principles from the field of bionics to give the printed components a bone-like structure, featuring thin walls, a hollow interior, and fine branching.

The turbofans on the wheels of the Bolide weighs a mere 400g and assist in cooling the brakes and minimising lift
And this is precisely how the components obtain their remarkable rigidity despite their low weight - with wall thicknesses of up to just 0.4mm.

Bugatti is the technological leader in the field of metal 3D printing. Since production began of the Chiron, the hyper sports car has been fitted with the industry's first series-produced metal 3D-printed functional component, a small, water-carrying high-pressure pump console next to the transmission fluid reservoir.

In 2018, the world's largest 3D-printed titanium component, a titanium brake caliper, was presented by Bugatti. This was followed by the world's largest hybrid functional assembly made of 3D-printed titanium and coiled carbon. The new materials and manufacturing processes are now being used in the Bugatti Bolide technology carrier.

Just like the turbofans typically used in motorsport, Bugatti has found a way of including radial compressors on ultra-lightweight magnesium forged wheels. Their appearance is similar to that of a wheel rim, but they perform multiple functions, they pump the air out of the wheel housings through the brakes and draw the warm air to the outside.

The mounting component for the rear fin on the Bolide is made of titanium and weighs 325g, all while withstanding over a ton of downforce
In this way, the turbofans cool the brakes and minimise lift. In contrast to the well-known monomaterial solutions, the Bolide components have a hybrid structure. This consists of a central bowl made of 3D-printed titanium with a thickness of 0.48mm, and a 0.7mm thick carbon plate with small inner blades, also made of carbon.

Cross-pieces with a width of 0.48mm further increase the rigidity of the central titanium bowl, which weighs just 100g. All of this adds up to a total weight of under 0.4kg for an individual 18.25-inch turbofan on the rear wheels and 17.25-inch at the front). This would not be possible with a monomaterial solution due to the fact that it is not possible to achieve the specific buckling resistance and flexural rigidity.

Highly complex components from the 3D printer are also used in hidden places. A mounting bracket for the front wing, on which the front wing can be mounted at three different heights, is printed in titanium. With a hollow interior and a wall thickness of 0.7mm, the mounting bracket can withstand an aerodynamic downforce of up to 800kg with a weight of just 0.6kg.

The downforce of the rear wing, which can reach up to 1.8 tonnes at 320km/h, is introduced via the Bolide's central carbon fin. Despite its rigidity, it weighs just 325g. The engineers also use titanium to print the bracket for mounting the steering column. All components are designed as lightweight hollow structures, with a uniform wall thickness of 0.5mm.

To save as much weight as possible, the steering column bracket is printed out of titanium and with a wall thickness of 0.5mm
In the tailpipe trim cover, a hybrid component made of 3D-printed titanium and ceramic, Bugatti reduced the weight by around half compared to the already weight-optimised titanium tailpipe trim covers well known from series production.The component measures more than 280mm in length and has a consistent wall thickness of just 0.5mm, therefore weighs less than 750g.

Since ceramic material is a significantly less effective heat conductor than titanium, Bugatti introduced special ceramic elements that are built into the titanium housing and centre the cover with respect to the carbon outer skin, so that the outer skin is not damaged even at high exhaust gas temperatures.

This thermal shield is also supported by a built-in Venturi nozzle, when hot exhaust gas enters the tailpipe trim cover, fresh air is drawn in, thereby creating a jacket of cool air around the hot exhaust gas flow. In its entirety, this is an invention for which Bugatti has submitted a patent application.

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