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Engine stabilizer of new Porsche Panamera looks good in BASF PA

Since it must handle the torque of an engine generating 400 or 500 hp, the innovative engine stabilizer developed jointly by ContiTech Vibration Control and materials supplier BASF for the new Porsche Panamera had very high load-bearing requirements. And despite being an underhood part, it also had high aesthetic specs.

Suspended lengthwise at two points, a molded PA (BASF Ultramid A3WG7 CR) stabilizer not only securely mounts an up-to-500-hp engine in the new Porsche Panamera, but also has a fine matte surface finish to meet the carmaker’s tough appearance specs. All achieved without a prototype.
The stabilizer, which is made of a high-strength grade from BASF’s Ultramid CR family of PA resins, will reliably withstand engine torque up to 650 Nm while securing the engine and absorbing sound. A metal part with comparable functionality weighs over 35% more.

Since the stabilizer is visible when the hood is open, ContiTech also worked closely with Porsche designers so that the finished part would have an appealing textured surface. Stefan Wöhler, who is responsible for product development at ContiTech Vibration Control, said his firm built a special mold to achieve the optically high-quality, matte-finish surface.

Perhaps most impressive about the part development is that it went from the digital design domain to series production without any prototypes at all. The challenge was to meet specified functionality and load-bearing criteria within defined spatial constraints. After a few iterations done in BASF’s Ultrasim simulation software package, ContiTech was able to execute a near-series-quality part. No prototypes and minimum optimization cycles translated into significant time and cost savings. Bench trials at both ContiTech and Porsche confirmed the part’s design and functionality.

So, when you are being shown someone’s new four-door Porsche Panamera Turbo, and you are not impressed by its top speed of 188 mph or 0-60 mph time of four seconds flat, prepare to be dazzled when the hood is raised. [email protected]

Rapid manufacturing powers ahead

At September’s National Manufacturing Show in Chicago, IL, for instance, Ronald Hollis, president and CEO at (Atlanta, GA), in his presentation on “The Power of Online Manufacturing,” discussed how online manufacturing has evolved from just offering online instant quoting for custom designed parts, to more resemble a retail business model that integrates a front-end storefront with back-office software to help users to drive efficiency throughout sales, project management, and manufacturing. Online manufacturing starts with customers receiving instant quotes for their new product designs and ends with them receiving their parts.
According to rapid manufacturing guru Terry Wohlers, the pace of development in equipment for rapid manufacturing is still swift, with several companies in 2008 introducing new AM systems. EOS (Germany), Objet Geometries (Israel), Mcor Technologies (Ireland), MTT Technologies Group (England), and three U.S. companies—Optomec, 3D Systems, and Z Corp.—introduced new machines, he reports.

Wohlers says a new type of additive manufacturing service provider is targeting consumers. He cites the example of Shapeways, a Dutch company that is a part of Philips Electronics’ incubator program. The company, which launched in Q2 2008, allows customers to upload a design that Shapeways will manufacture using AM. The difference to what has been doing is that Shapeways focuses entirely on the consumer market. Also, it offers a portfolio of “creator” tools that makes it easier for customers unfamiliar with conventional design tools to create custom products. Prices start as low as a few dollars.

Early this year the company opened its Shapeways Shops, a service that became available in January 2009, which allows artists, designers, or anyone to set up their own “storefront” to sell AM-produced products to the public. Shapeways handles the sales transaction, manufacturing, and shipment to the customer. All manufacturing is done by laser sintering, fused deposition modeling, PolyJet, or ProMetal. [email protected]