Bentley Motors has completed 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 in side the Crewe factory 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 utilize advanced technology to create 3D printed vehicle components and even greater personalization in customer cars. The investment of this nature in such an innovative process is yet another example of Bentley’s vision to create a long-term, sustainable business model and remain at the forefront of technological progress.
The fleet of 3D printing systems at the Crewe factory is composed mainly of the latest generation of Stratasys industrial FDM (for polymer extrusion of advanced plastics) and PolyJet (material jetting for multi-materials models) machines, with at least one HP 5210 multijet fusion system (for polymer PBF with nylon and TPU materials). 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 woodshop.
Additionally, historically accurate tooling equipment needed to make parts for the Bentley Blower Continuation model was created, and even face shields were provided to the healthcare sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 at the Bentley Crewe factory enables a 50 percent 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, commented: “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 personalize parts for our customers and further enhancing the individualization program offered on every car.”