3D Printing Solves Issue Sourcing a Hard-to-get Porsche Part
The Porsche 928 was initially planned to be Porsche’s replacement to the venerable, but aging, 911. Evidently, the 928 went on to be its own unique product, sold alongside the 911 for almost 20 years. During the early 1970’s, the popular Porsche 911 was approaching 10 years of age. Due to changing global economies and consumer awareness, the then-current chairman of Porsche, Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann, was worried that sales of the aging 911 would slow. He began to theorise an entirely new Porsche model. With increased attention to emissions and success of more refined vehicles like those offered by Mercedes and BMW, Fuhrmann and his design team speculated about an all-new modern vehicle. They aimed to depart from the Volkswagen Beetle derived air-cooled/rear-engined layout to a more modern and refined water-cooled, front engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. This would allow this new Porsche model to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW and would ensure a long production run with this new ‘luxury-sport’ model. After much market research, especially into the American market where the 911 sold well, the design and engineering team at Stuttgart came up with a revolutionary prototype. It featured an all-alloy 90-degree 4.5 litre V8, a rear mounted transaxle, a light, sleek modern body, a long standard equipment list and luxuriously tuned suspension. The vehicle held onto its internal code, 928, when it was finally released in 1977.
Although the new vehicle was, on-paper, superior to the 911, it failed to fully gain the anticipated sales-traction that the 911 had already etched in the market. Sales were adequate but the 911 continued, rather unexpectedly, to sell strongly alongside the 928. In fact, the 911 sold so strongly, Porsche revised its 1980s market strategy and introduced unplanned updates to the 911, which have allowed production of this legendary vehicle up to the present day. The 928 sold well enough to survive a life from 1977 to 1995, where its final model, the 345hp 5.4 litre 928 GTS, was discontinued. With such a unique design and interesting history, the Porsche 928 is now a prized collectible vehicle.
Cammpro was contacted by Greg Grey, a Porsche and motoring enthusiast, in the hope we would be able to manufacture a hard to source part for his 1984 Minerva Blue 928S. A stand-out feature of the 928 was its always-visible ‘forward-folding’ headlights. Although pop-up lights were features of sports-orientated cars before the 928, the mechanism of the 928’s lights was unique and used a horizontal rotating arm common to both left and right lights to ‘fold’ the light forward when needed. A small nylon retaining clip, attached to the pressed steel frames of the lights, is a part prone to failure on the aging 928s. Greg’s clip had failed in the usual way. Over 30 Australian summers had taken its toll on this fragile piece resulting in total failure of the part. A replacement from Porsche was unavailable and 2nd hand parts were at least 20 years old. Greg arranged an appointment with us to have a chat to us about our capabilities. Bing proficient in CAD, Greg had designed a replacement part which we were able to 3D-print into a production-grade reproduction.
This file was initially printed using our Stratasys Polyjet 3D printer for sizing and functionality testing then bulk-printed using our industrial SLS machine in Nylon. As expected, the nylon part was durable enough to be a suitable replacement for the production part. Not only did this save cost, but this allowed Greg to source the part locally and very quickly.
This part allowed Greg to finish restoration of his car and enter his immaculate 928S into a national Porsche show and take out 2nd place. Well done, Greg! Greg plans to make these parts available to the Porsche community once the parts have proven themselves over time.
At Cammpro we have the ability to create almost anything from sketches, engineering drawings, CAD files and sometimes, photographs. We have a full suite of advanced additive manufacturing machines that can create prototypes or production items from a range of functional materials. We welcome anyone looking for those hard-to-come-by or discontinued parts to contact us and see how we can help.
By Daniel Lawrence
3D Printing Technician