In the past, if you owned a classic car and needed a part, you had to resort to specialized aftermarket parts dealers or a lengthy eBay search. Rarely, the original manufacturer has a special collection catalog or internal restoration operation to use as a resource. Unfortunately, all but the last option are a complete crapshoot. Porsche is aiming to change the game by 3D printing parts for its classic cars. So instead of requesting crucial bolts or solenoids and getting the dreaded “part no longer available” response, vintage Porsche owners have a viable option: get your ride back on the road instead of permanently retiring it.
Currently, Porsche has 52,000 different items available in its parts reserve for owners looking to replace or restore; currently, when the supply of any part is getting low, Porsche will reproduce it using the original tools. But if, say, every owner at Luftgekult needed a release lever for their 300-plus Porsche 356s, the company is looking into using 3D printers as a much quicker, more efficient way of meeting the demand.
Even more important: Porsche is just one manufacturer. Now that 3D printers are becoming more ubiquitous, it’s easy to imagine that even the most obscure parts for the rarest cars can be produced every time there’s a need. In an ideal world, you’d have a 3D printer in your garage — request a part, and a specialist company sends schematics over the air for you to download, print and then bolt into your ailing classic car. That future may be closer than we think.
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