Does Your Car Have 3D-Printed Gold This Bentley? We Didn’t Think So12/16/2022
If you needed any more proof that Bentley is a luxury car company, it’s now using real 18-carat gold in the Mulliner Batur, which should be enough to cement that idea. Not only is the W-12 engined coupe their fastest car in their history, but probably the first to ever use gold in a 3D-printed part. While 3D-printing metal isn’t as uncommon as it once was, printing with real, pure gold can only be done one way. It’s also a show of how metals could become more sustainable, as the power is made from recycled jewelry shavings.
With only 18 of them being built at a premium price of $2,010,393 (in today’s exchange rate), the Muliner Batur owner can probably more than afford some touches of 18-carat gold in their coupe’s interior. Bentley claims that this is the first time 3D-printed gold will have ever been used in a vehicle like they are using it and, outside of any potential private collections we missed, we don’t remember seeing it before.
We won’t be surprised if more luxury car companies start offering it to their customers, too. It will be limited to some touch pieces within the interior like the Charisma Dial (the mode selector around the Start/Stop button), Organ Stop vent controls, and the insert marker on the steering wheel. In all, the amount of gold used comes in at 210 grams of the yellow colored metal.
There are two additional points of interest in the use of 3D-printed gold, outside the idea of creating one very lavish cabin for the Batur. 3D-printing metal has been around for a bit and is used by OEMs when making a part is not possible with standard CNC machining and metal casting processes.
A common method of 3D-printing is the extrusion method, as some metals can be printed using a metal and polymer mixture like PLA filament. This would also mean you’re not working with a pure metal to create your part. The best method of printing pure gold is through Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).
This process takes a fine powder of a metal (in our case, gold) and fuses it layer by layer to “print” the part you’re making. Not only does this mean you’re printing without the need for a second binding material (and losing the ability to say you’re using “pure gold”), the other advantage is that you can reuse unused powder, but also use recycled metal waste from machining.
In the case of the gold that Bentley is using, it comes from recycled from old jewelry that was ground into a fine powder. This means that no newly-mined or minted gold was used to create the parts in the Batur, keeping with Bentley’s goals of sustainability and becoming end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030.
Earlier this year, Bentley also invested nearly $3,656,000 into additive manufacturing (the name you use if you want to sound more “professional” in the 3D-printing space) in the hopes to create even more bespoke personalization and help in low-volume manufacturing, like making gold pieces on other limited release Bentley models. We can’t wait to see what else Bentley—and its owners—come up with when the sky is the limit.
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