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BLT and HeyGears retrofit a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car

Using metal 3D printing to compensate for the discontinued car parts

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Recently, Bright Laser Technologies (BLT), a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer, collaborated with HeyGears, a digital applications provider, to retrofit a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car. Following a successful trial run, the refitted vehicle was delivered to the customer.

Upon undertaking the retrofit assignment, BLT and HeyGears commenced with an evaluation of the car’s parts. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car, which was in production from 2010 to 2015, presented a unique challenge. Many of the components, spare parts, and accessories needed for the retrofit had been discontinued – bringing the process to a standstill.

BLT and HeyGears retrofit a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car - using metal 3D printing to compensate for the discontinued car parts.
3D printed metal exhaust shrouds.

However, the advent of metal 3D printing technology provided a viable solution to this roadblock. To best fulfill the customer’s retrofit specifications, HeyGears decided to leverage this technology. They developed a lighter and stronger ‘2.0 version of OEM parts’, along with unique designs tailored to the customer’s preferences – effectively merging creativity and classic aesthetics. Ultimately, the collaborative teams agreed to utilize metal 3D printing for the car’s left and right exhaust shrouds, gear handle, and paddle shift.

In order to fulfill the customer’s requirements for aerodynamic exhaust shrouds and high-grade consumer appearance, HeyGears engineered a novel design for the exhaust shroud. The product, featuring a slim (0.8mm) and lightweight (316g) design, comprises a streamlined, specially-shaped surface and a hollow structure. The dual turbine structure conceptualized by HeyGears for the exhaust shroud is not only creative and lightweight but also effective in insulating the high-temperature exhaust gases, thereby preventing deformation and carbonization of the carbon fiber rear lip due to high temperatures.

BLT and HeyGears retrofit a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car - using metal 3D printing to compensate for the discontinued car parts.

In alignment with the AM process characteristics and the customer’s product performance requirements, BLT optimized the product model. A dedicated support structure and a process package were designed by BLT to ensure stable and reliable product formation, as well as straightforward post-processing. This effectively addressed the deformation issue associated with thin-walled, specially-shaped titanium alloy parts. The printed part met an overall dimensional tolerance within ±0.5mm and exhibited a uniform surface, thereby satisfying the customer’s assembly, usability, and consumer-grade appearance requirements.

During the printing of the exhaust shrouds, BLT utilized their BLT-S400 tri-laser machine, given that the overall build dimension of the left and right exhaust shrouds closely resembled a rectangle. Exhibited at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Expo, this machine is more suited to rectangular build dimensions and offers a production efficiency 34% higher than that of the BLT-S400 dual-laser machine.

BLT and HeyGears retrofit a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car - using metal 3D printing to compensate for the discontinued car parts.

The aluminum alloy gear handle and paddle shift were printed using the BLT-S310. This classic model, which has earned Airbus certification, is versatile and reliable, capable of producing high-quality parts across various fields.

Following the printing process, the parts were forwarded to HeyGears for the next stage of work. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car, now proudly displaying the inscription “Legend never dies”, has been delivered to its owner, ready to continue the narrative of speed and classic design.

Composites AM 2024

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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