Additive ManufacturingAutomotive AM

Porsche Mission X features customizable 3D printed bodyform seats

The carmaker is also hinting at the use of metal AM for structural parts in a teaser video

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Porsche sports cars have always been tailored to the needs of the driver. In the new Porsche Mission X concept, presented at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, this focus reaches a new level. All essential display and control elements are on the driver’s axis. As is common in racing cars, the steering wheel and pedal are longitudinally adjustable, while the CFRP seat shells integrated into the monocoque are fixed. Another motorsport parallel: inspired by the highly customized seats of professional drivers, the seats can be customized with 3D printable bodyform full bucket seats.

This is something Porsche has already shown on the Mission R concept and has made available on request even on production cars such as the 911, Boxster, Cayman and 718, as part of the new Performance Parts offering from Porsche Tequipment. The 3D-printed bodyform full bucket seat is based on Porsche’s lightweight full bucket seat and features a sandwich construction: base support made from expanded polypropylene (EPP) is bonded to a breathable comfort layer consisting of a mixture of polyurethane-based materials made using additive manufacturing – in other words using a 3D printer. The components are clipped together. This innovative joining technology means that the seat generates no emissions associated with adhesives. The outer skin of the seat is made of Race-Tex. This non-slip material offers plenty of support in the seat and the unique perforated surface enables improved passive ventilation.

Window panels show exposed, full-color sections of the 3D printed lattice structure and give the full bucket seat an unmistakable design. Initially, customers can choose between Black, Guards Red and Racing Yellow for these design elements. In February, Arctic Grey, Ultramarine and Shark Blue will be added to the color range. Porsche is planning another customization for the medium term: 3D printed bodyform full bucket seats adapted to the individual body contours of each customer.

The Mission X represents the pinnacle of performance and modern luxury. While Mission E showed the future of electromobility and Mission R the future of customer sport, Mission X is the vision for the next big step: experimental, exciting and extreme. Inspired by architectural support structures, there isn’t a single superfluous gram of weight in the Mission X, which leaves a lot of room for use of additive manufacturing, even in the chassis and other powertrain parts. However, while the 3D printed seats are now almost standard for concept and luxury models, Porsche is only hinting at the use of metal AM for structural parts in a teaser video.

A lightweight glass dome with an exoskeleton made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic extends over both occupants. The Le Mans-style doors are attached to the A-pillar and the roof, and they open forwards and upwards. This type of door was previously used on the legendary Porsche 917 racing car. Design elements in a carbon-weave finish are found below the beltline. These components are varnished in a satin finish and as such are slightly colored, but their material structure remains recognizable.

In the Mission X, the designers have also reinterpreted the characteristic four-point graphic: the vertical base shape of the headlights has been significantly drawn down toward the road. A high-tech support structure frames the LED light modules and presents the exposed, narrow elements of the daytime driving lights and direction indicators. The sculpted rear light emerges as if suspended in the air, from a modern support structure and extends across the entire width of the vehicle in four segments. While charging, the ‘E’ in the Porsche logo pulsates, adding a sense of mystery.

Porsche Mission X features customisable 3D printed bodyform seats and possible metal AM for structural parts

The deep-dish wheels on the concept study are only slightly covered on the front axle, while the rear wheels are fitted with almost transparent aeroblades, which are designed like turbines for better brake cooling. The double spokes are relief milled, which combines lightweight construction and stability.

The operating and display concept is tailored to the driver, which is also reflected in the interior’s color concept. The curved instrument cluster sits at the highest point of the steering column: other motorsport parallels include the carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) seat shells integrated in the monocoque and the steering wheel, which is open at the top.

Porsche Mission X features customisable 3D printed bodyform seats and possible metal AM for structural parts

To enable quick adjustment of the distance between the accelerator and brake pedals, a scale is milled into the ’river’s footwell. Both occupants are secured with six-point seat belts. Andalusia Brown leather pads on the seat cushions and backrests as well as matching fabric sections in the integrated headrests play with materials and colour. The latter are easily removed with clips if, for example, the driver and passenger are wearing helmets and neck restraints on a race track.

The driver focus can also be seen in the asymmetry of the interior and its color concept: the two seats are coloured differently. Apart from the customizable parts of the 3D-print bodyform full bucket seats, the driver’s seat is Kalahari Grey and matches the color of the center console and instrument panel. The passenger seat, meanwhile, is finished in contrasting Andalusia Brown. An LED light strip is integrated in the center of both seats. This greets the occupants with a ‘welcome’ gesture.

Porsche Mission X features customisable 3D printed bodyform seats and possible metal AM for structural parts

The steering wheel is open at the top, with the two leather-upholstered grips in Kalahari Grey fitting smoothly into the hand. As in the current 911 GT3 RS, there are four individual mode switches on the steering wheel. Rockers and paddles are available as additional control elements for controlling features such as the brake energy recuperation function.

The curved instrument cluster sits at the highest point of the steering column: it has a concave shape for better readability and is oriented toward the driver. The concept offers the choice between a display featuring classic Porsche dials or a full-screen navigation map. In Track mode, the displays shift to a functional representation with dedicated track-focused content.

On top of the steering column, a small display window offers a view of the airbag module. As in a racing car, the material used in the steering column has been optimized for weight. The 7.8-inch central display faces the driver. Prominent aluminum controls are positioned to its right. Here again, designers have performance-oriented driving in mind: the climate controls can even be operated with racing gloves on.

In classic Porsche fashion, the ‘Le Mans’ starter button is located to the left of the steering wheel and features an elegant, authentic metal design. Here, the designers were inspired by the elegant metallic detailing of historic cameras.

Porsche Mission X features customisable 3D printed bodyform seats and possible metal AM for structural parts

There is another interior highlight on the passenger side, where a bayonet system embedded in the instrument panel enables a stopwatch module to be quickly attached. The historical reference is unmistakable: in classic racing and rally cars, co-drivers often fitted a plate with stopwatches or a compact device with an odometer into the dashboard in this position. Porsche Design created a special timing module for the Mission X, with an analog and digital display. The stopwatches are designed for both racetrack and rally use and can display the lap times or health data of the driver, among other information.

A small, closed compartment in the trim behind the seats provides practical storage. Smartphones can be charged wirelessly in the shelf in front of the multi-purpose controller. The air vents of the air conditioning system are located in the doors. Because even in a hypercar, Porsche never loses sight of everyday usability.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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