'World's largest automotive brake caliper'

Bugatti has unveiled the first-ever 3D-printed titanium brake caliper prototype, claiming the mantle of 'world's largest automotive brake caliper' in the process.

The new caliper is reportedly the largest functional titanium component produced by a 3D printer, and was created at the Laser Zentrum Nord in Hamburg, Germany.

The centre's large 3D printer features four 400-watt-lasers, which melt layers of titanium powder to form the shape and structure of the caliper.

After 2213 layers have been melted on a supporting structure (a 45 hour process) the unit is put into a furnace to remove residual stress and "ensure dimensional stability".

The furnace is initially set to 700 degrees Celsius, but the temperature is gradually reduced to just 100 degrees.

Out of the furnace, the support structures are removed, and the caliper is treated with a "mechanical, physical and chemical process which drastically improves its fatigue strength".

Lastly, the caliper's functional surfaces are machined with a five-axis milling machine for 11 hours. Once complete, the titanium, aluminium and vanadium-alloy caliper has a wall thickness of between one and four millimetres.

While the Chiron's existing aluminium caliper weighs 4.9 kilograms, the 3D printed unit tips the scales at 2.9kg, a reduction of just over 40 per cent. In addition to being lighter, the titanium caliper is said to have a higher strength too.

Bugatti says it will begin testing the new 3D printed titanium caliper in production vehicles some time during the first half of 2018, with an eye on series production some time this year.