Porsche Will 3D Print Your Custom-fitted Seat

Once again, Porsche wants to deploy racing technology to its street cars.

Image source: Porsche Cars North America

The proper fit of seat to driver is so critical in sporting driving that for endurance sports car races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, drivers install their own custom-fitted seat form when they take over driving from a teammate.

This adds to the high-speed dance, as the driver’s swap places and seat inserts, and the departing driver helps his replacement buckle his seat belts and connect his helmet radio and drinking water supply line.

Porsche wants to bring that level of fit to the driver’s seats of its production models too, and will employ 3D printing to accomplish it. The company plans to build 40 cars with custom-molded seats this year as a prelude to a broader rollout in the 911 and 718 sports car models next year.

Image source: Porsche Cars North America

It works like this: the 3D bodyform full-bucket seat’s backrest cushions are partly produced by 3D printing them to fit the customer using hard, medium or soft padding for the outer comfort layer. The seat promises improved comfort, better ventilation, reduced weight and an eye-catching design as its benefits.

The basic seat shell is based on Porsche’s regular lightweight bucket seat and is built using sandwich construction that includes a base layer of expanded polypropylene (EPP) bonded to a breathable comfort layer made using a blend of polyurethane-based materials created by 3D printing.

On top of that, the outer skin of the concept seat is made from “Racetex” and features a specific perforation pattern for air flow. Window panels in the seat provide a view of exposed colored components in the 3D-printed lattice structure and give the full-bucket seat an unmistakable design.

Image source: Porsche Cars North America

“The seat is the interface between the human and the vehicle, and is thus important for precise, sporty handling,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche. “That’s why personalized seat shells customized 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.”

If these seats prove popular in Porsche’s sports car models, 3D personalization could eventually be expanded to include a full range of colors and seats adapted to fit customers’ body contours, the company said.

Porsche racing drivers making the switch during a pit stop have to adjust the seat to fit them. Image source: Porsche Cars North America.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

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