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How does 3D printing work basically? The principles are well-known. It is the execution that is innovative. Specific software sends the CAD data to a large Inkjet printer, which can use different sorts of materials. It prints on layers of powder (called PA12), fusing the ink after every print layer in a process that can take up to 65 hours.
The result is a hot cube of powder, with the component inside, and once it has cooled down the excess powder is sandblasted off. PA12 is a plastic with good chemical and mechanical resistance, and heat resistant up to 95°C. Then there’s EPX 82, a material with similar properties to fibreglass, that can be used to make connectors, brackets or housings.
It has a superior tensile strength and higher heat resistance – up to 130°C. Given the extraordinary capabilities of the Sián, and the demands of its ultra high performance, these parts are used in the appropriate areas in the car’s structure.
Centro Stile has also developed a special logo, which identifies any part on the car that’s 3D printed; it’s a seal of approval, because as well as the scope for creating parts in low volumes, it also opens up a whole new world of personalisation. The air vents in the Sián Coupé and Roadster are of a different design, something that might not be achievable with the standard tooling.