Porsche’s New 3D Printed Pistons Offer Optimized Combustion, Less Weight, and Better Performance

The Porsche 911 GT2 RS is a beast of a car that, as of today, delivers a cool 700 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter, flat-six. It’s fast enough to get to 60 mph in a spleen splitting 2.7 seconds and tops out a respectable 211 mph. Those numbers represent an improvement of 0.8 seconds and six mph over the model it replaced. One could argue, then, that the next-gen 911 GT2 RS doesn’t need more power, but Porsche simply wouldn’t agree. This time, however, extra power and better performance aren’t coming from bigger turbos and more most. No, this time it comes, at least in part, thanks to 3D printed pistons.

Porsche’s 3D Printed Pistons Make for Less Weight and Better Combustion

The New Porsche 911 GT2 RS Could Have 720 HP Or More Thanks to 3D Printed Pistons
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3D printing isn’t new to the world. You’ll probably recall that Porsche has used the technology before to create racing bucket seats, and even Bugatti uses it to make its titanium exhausts. Thanks to a collaboration between Porsche and Mahle and Trumpf, Porsche has unlocked the ability to 3D print pistons – the beating horse inside every internal combustion that’s in production today.

The New Porsche 911 GT2 RS Could Have 720 HP Or More Thanks to 3D Printed Pistons
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According to Porsche, 3D printing its engine pistons reduces weight by as much as 10-percent compared to traditional forged pistons.

That accounts for a big step toward a reduction in inertia at an engine’s redline. On top of this, the process of 3D printing has allowed the company to integrate a closed cooling duct into the crown of the piston. This reduction in weight and additional cooling means better reliability and better fuel efficiency alongside better performance. As explained by Frank Ickinger, who works at Porsche’s Advance Drive Development Department:

The New Porsche 911 GT2 RS Could Have 720 HP Or More Thanks to 3D Printed Pistons
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”Thanks to the new, lighter pistons, we can increase the engine speed, lower the temperature load on the pistons, and optimize combustion.”

While this might not mean a lot for a car that delivers a meager 300 horsepower, when it comes to high-performance cars like the 911 GT2 RS, we’re talking about an increase in as much as 30 horsepower. Assumingly, that’s without any improvements anywhere else like we saw with the current GT2 RS with larger turbos and increased boost. So, just employing these 3D printed pistons along could push the next-gen GT2 RS into the 720-horsepower range, 30 ponies more than the current model and 20 ponies more than the 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.

The New Porsche 911 GT2 RS Could Have 720 HP Or More Thanks to 3D Printed Pistons
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The whole process of making these pistons is 100 times easier to say than actually accomplish. First off, high-purity metal powder is used to construct them. That high-purity metal powder is then fused together in the shape of a piston with laser fusion. Special accommodations have to be made, however, to ensure quality and longevity, so Porsche had to fall back on Zeiss for precise measurement.

Will the Base Porsche 911 or 718 Cayman Have 3D Printed Pistons?

The New Porsche 911 GT2 RS Could Have 720 HP Or More Thanks to 3D Printed Pistons
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Don’t hold your breath for these new 3D printed pistons to trickle down to the base 911 or 718 anytime soon. As you can imagine, the process is outrageously expensive. Porsche hasn’t disclosed cost, but there’s a good reason that the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is being used as a testbed of sorts for their introduction. The last model came dangerously close to the $300,000 mark, so if these make it into production examples of the next-gen GT2 RS, cost recuperation won’t be difficult. Putting them in a car that comes in a 30 to 40-percent of that price, however, probably isn’t feasible. It may happen someday, but for the foreseeable future, this kind of tech will be limited to the high-dollar, big-boy cars that most of us only dream of owning.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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