When it comes to VW Group parts sharing, Audi usually gets the short end of the stick. Typically, it’s Audi borrowing from the Volkswagen parts bin to develop its less expensive cars. However, over the past couple of years, the relationship between Audi and Porsche has grown tighter, with the two brands not only developing engines together but also developing a joint electric-vehicle architecture. With that in mind, might Audi get to borrow Porsche’s new 3D-printed piston technology?
Porsche recently announced that it’s going to be using 3D-printed pistons in its top-end models. It might sound odd to use a 3D-printed piston, as that sort of tech is usually reserved for very low-stress parts, parts that won’t see a ton of work.
However, these new 3D-printed pistons are not only 10-percent lighter than their forged alloy counterparts but are also just as strong. They’re also better at reducing heat, thanks to a closed cooling duct integrated into the piston crown, thus dropping the temperature in the combustion chamber.
That last bit is important. If Porsche can reduce the temperature load on the piston, it can increase engine revs and turbo-boost without risking engine knock or damage to the piston. According to Porsche, that allows for a significant power increase. In the case of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, it’s a 30 horsepower bump.
Could Audi possibly get hold of these pistons for some of its higher-performance cars? Obviously, this sort of additive manufacturing is expensive and would only be viable in high-profit cars like the Audi R8 or RS6 Avant. Still, internal combustion engines still have many years left and any tech that can make them more powerful and more efficient should be utilized.
Considering the manufacturing might of the VW Group, it’s possible that we could see this tech start to get spread out through the entire group. If that’s the case, Audi would likely be the first brand outside of Porsche to use 3D-printed pistons, which would be very cool to see.