Bentley Motors has shared details of the impact of a £3 million investment to double its additive manufacturing (AM) capacity at the company's headquarters in Crewe, England, where all Bentley models are built. A state-of-the-art AM facility has been applied to a wide range of uses, producing more than 15,000 components in 2021 alone. This expansion will also enable Bentley to utilise advanced technology to create 3D printed vehicle components and even greater personalisation in customer cars.
The AM systems convert 3D CAD models into physical components and is recognised as one of the fastest developing technologies in the world. Bentley's innovative research and development team has already identified a wide variety of items to print, including on-the-job assisted tools for manufacturing colleagues, such as lightweight sanding blocks in Bentley's iconic wood shop. Additionally, historically accurate tooling equipment needed to make parts for the Bentley Blower Continuation model was created, and even face shields provided to the healthcare sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printed Materials Market 2020-2030: COVID Edition.
AM has been employed to create physical components for several prototype Bentleys, including full-scale powertrain models and aerodynamic wind tunnel models. The advanced techniques have also been used to produce parts for the record-breaking Bentley models that were driven in the demanding Pikes Peak Challenge in America.
The latest methods help speed up product development, allowing Bentley to produce a profusion of parts without the need to outsource. It is part of the company's ground-breaking Beyond100 strategy, targeting sustainable mobility leadership by reinventing every aspect of the business.
The state-of-the-art AM equipment installed enables a 50 per cent cost saving on parts and by operating around the clock, the facility is capable of producing thousands of components in over 25 different material options. Bentley colleagues from across the company are now being offered training in AM to understand how they can benefit from using the state-of-the-art process in their work.
Peter Bosch, Bentley's Member of the Board for Manufacturing, added: "Bentley's approach to additive manufacturing is industry-leading and the facility is quickly becoming a cornerstone of our 'Dream Factory' ambitions. One of the key benefits is that it is efficiency led, cutting down on the cost and complexity of a myriad of jobs. This latest investment is also making a significant impact with our colleagues from across the company, helping to create advanced assisted tools to drive continuous improvement throughout manufacturing processes. As we look to the future, there really is huge potential to where this advanced technology can progress, including having a greater ability to personalise parts for our customers and further enhancing the individualisation programme offered on every car."
Source and top image: Bentley