Since 3D printing became more consumer friendly, it's also given companies an easy way to innovate their production processes. Bugatti, for example, has just announced that they have created the world's first 3D-printed brake caliper. This achievement was made possible thanks to the new material they're using (a titanium alloy) and a cooperation with Laser Zentrum Nord of Hamburg, who helped Bugatti run simulation, design the support structures and print the component itself-- Bugatti was responsible for the development and finishing of the brake caliper.

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The titanium alloy (Ti6AI4V) is typically used in the aerospace industry, but Bugatti saw that this material offers higher performance when compared to aluminum. To turn the titanium into a brake caliper, a 45-hour process has to take place. During this process titanium dust is deposited layer by layer, amounting to a total of 2,213 layers. As each layer is placed, four lasers melt the powder into the form of the brake caliper. After being melted into the desired shape, the material cools right away and hardens. Once the 3D printer is done, the brake caliper is given a heat treatment and then removed from the tray. From here, all that's left are the finishing touches.
Finished brake caliper before assembly.
“It was a very moving moment for the team when we held our first titanium brake caliper from the 3-D printer in our hands,” Frank Götzke, Head of New Technologies in the Technical Development Department of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., remembers. “In terms of volume, this is the largest functional component produced from titanium by additive manufacturing methods. Everyone who looks at the part is surprised at how light it is – despite its large size. Technically, this is an extremely impressive brake caliper, and it also looks great.” Not only does Bugatti now have the automotive industry's largest brake caliper on their Chiron, they'll also be able to claim the world's first 3D printed brake caliper.
Head of New Technologies in the Technical Development Department of Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.