In this round-up, we look at Porsche’s 3D printing technology, Cupra’s faith in combustion engines and a reminder for drivers to report hidden or obscured road signs.
:: Porsche is using 3D printing to make 911 GT2 RS pistons
Porsche has revealed it is using 3D printers to make the pistons for its high-performance 911 GT2 RS model.
The German car maker says it has already been using the technology in prototype vehicles and when remanufacturing parts for classic sports cars.
However, now it is using 3D printing for making the pistons for its flagship performance car, which it says reduces the item’s weight by 10%.
Frank Ickinger from the advanced drive development department at Porsche explained: “Thanks to the new, lighter pistons, we can increase the engine speed, lower the temperature load on the pistons and optimise combustion.
“This makes it possible to get up to 30bhp more power from the 690bhp biturbo engine, while at the same time improving efficiency.”
Porsche says there are various processes for 3D printing, but they all create shapes by layering materials. The 911 GT2 RS pistons were created using a technique that involves a laser that heats and melts a metal powder to create the shape.
The company is expanding its use of 3D printing. For example, bucket seats have been offered since May that have a central section made using the technique, while Porsche Classic has been using additive processes to reproduce plastic, steel and alloy parts that are no longer manufactured.
:: Combustion engines will remain key to Cupra’s success
Combustion engines are set to remain an integral part of performance car maker Cupra’s range, despite the firm’s increasing push towards EVs and hybrids.
Once sportier versions of Seats, Cupra split from the Spanish car manufacturer in 2018 to establish its own performance models as a standalone brand.
While still heavily tied with Seat – hence models like the Cupra Ateca and Cupra Leon, which are both based on the Spanish firm’s cars – this year will see the first bespoke Cupra model launched with the Formentor.
This will be available with both plug-in hybrid power and a petrol engine, while last week Cupra unveiled the new el-Born as its first EV, which will offer a range of up to 310 miles.
With the firm having a noticeable push towards electrified models, question marks had been raised as to whether regular combustion models would remain in its line-up.
However, Cupra chief executive Wayne Griffiths has confirmed that they will, saying: “I think we need the combustion engine and we shall have them in the future – they just need to be efficient on emissions. I don’t think people will go from a 300bhp four-cylinder petrol engine to an electric model, I think a lot will go via a plug-in hybrid.
“So I think we have to offer all three powertrains, and we’ll have to see in what markets which technology takes off, and prepare for that.”
:: Motorists encouraged to report obscured road signs
Drivers should be reporting any road signs that are hidden or obscured, a leading road safety association has stated.
GEM Motoring Assist has said that hidden road signs can be a nuisance for drivers, while also potentially being misleading and dangerous at times.
The call arrives at the time of year when roadside vegetation is at its thickest and has the potential to obscure or entirely cover road signs.
Neil Worth, GEM chief executive, said: “Road signs provide vital information for drivers, who will plan their speeds and actions based either wholly or in part on what the signs tell them.
“If you can’t see a sign, then your ability to make safe decisions is compromised, especially if you’re on unfamiliar roads. Nourished by recent rain, vegetation at this time of year tends to be at its most prolific, meaning more and more signs risk being partially or completely covered. It’s a growing menace that puts road users at risk.
“We can help highways authorities and local councils to know where the problems are by using the reporting facilities they provide. It is vital for road safety that trees, bushes and branches are not allowed to obscure important information, and that everyone using the roads has a clear view of speed limit and other signs.”
A survey conducted last year by Transport Focus found that nearly a third of drivers had missed a motorway exit, either because of a concealed or badly located sign.
The association is encouraging drivers to report any covered signs to the appropriate local authority and to remember that a speed limit of 30mph usually applied to all traffic on all roads with street lighting.