As luxury cars become more and more commonplace, standout features also become even harder to come by. It’s not like carmakers aren’t trying; in recent times we’ve seen unique materials like tweed or high-tech gizmos such as the Hyperscreen, but nothing has really stood out. So will this gold ring on the Bentley Mulliner Batur be any different?
Well, perhaps. Because not only is it 210 grams of 18-carat yellow gold in an 18-unit-only limited-edition special model, it’s also quite simply a technological marvel. Yes, you read that title right – it’s literally 3D-printed without a cast or mould, much like how you would print a small plastic dog.
Bentley calls the additive manufacturing process to be “ground-breaking”, and believes that it’s the first time that it’s been used in the automotive industry… except that we’ve seen 3D-printed metallic car parts before, like this titanium brake calliper from Bugatti. Maybe they meant interior ornaments, or specifically for gold? We’ll never know.
Aside from that one minor pedantic point, though, we have to admit that it does look pretty cool. Beyond the central Charisma Dial, which encircles the start/stop button and is used to change the Batur’s driving modes, you can also opt for a 3D-printed golden Organ Stop vent controls on the dashboard, as well as a gold insert marker on the steering wheel.
Bentley Mulliner worked with renowned goldsmiths Cooksongold to craft the unique 3D-printed parts for the Batur. All the raw gold material is sourced from 100% recycled old jewellery, ground into a fine powder needed for the 3D printing technique.
The company says that using recycled material means there’s no environmental impact from mining for new precious metals, and also reflects its commitment to its Beyond100 carbon-neutral strategy.
Each of these 3D-printed gold parts in the Batur is digitally designed using CAD models, before sending them to laser melting printers. After being printed, the pieces are then hand finished by skilled artisan jewellers, using traditional techniques to achieve the “polish and quality that is synonymous with a Bentley”.
They’re then hallmarked in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter as a sign of having solid material authenticity. Additionally, any parts manufactured in 2022 will also receive the Jubilee hallmark, celebrating the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee year. It doesn’t get any more British than that.
Earlier this year, Bentley committed a further GBP3 million investment to double the company’s 3D-printing capacity at the Crewe factory, converting 3D CAD models into physical parts. The expansion will facilitate more low volume manufacturing components and bespoke customer personalisation, such as these 3D-printed gold parts.
As for the car, the Bentley Mulliner Batur is the “fastest Bentley in the company’s 103-year history”, taking the form of a coupe that also showcases the brand’s future design DNA for its electric cars. Despite that, it’s still powered by the legendary 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, making more than 740 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque. Too bad they’re only making 18 of them.