Top 5 advantages of 3D printing for Motorsports
Motorsports industry is fascinating and brings solutions that can be implemented across whole automotive fields. Can 3D printing improve the performance of racing cars? How beneficial is it for rapid prototyping? Today we will find the answer to those and more questions by listing the top 5 advantages of 3D printing for Motorsports.
The main challenges of this industry are the aerodynamic design of the cars, which leaves little space for car components, the weight of the vehicle, speed of testing and production. At some point, traditional technologies such as casting or machining fail to get any further with the design improvements for motorsports. This is exactly why 3D printing is the ultimate solution to take the motorsports industry to another level. Let’s find out why industry giants, like Formula 1 teams, invest in this innovative technology.
1. The ultimate lightweight parts
Weight is a crucial factor to win or lose a race. Sports cars have to be comparatively lightweight in order to perform well. Therefore, their parts are mostly made out of aluminum, which is relatively strong, but light.
3D printing can highly improve that aspect of motorsport vehicles. You can easily produce fully functional motorsports parts and 3D printing materials will assure they remain lightweight.
An additional solution to that issue are lattices, which can be implemented inside the parts keeping their structure strong, but reducing the weight, material usage and bringing costs down.
The practical case of applying this advantage of 3D printing into the motorsports industry is the case of the Alfa Romeo Sauber Formula 1 Team. They use 3D printed metal components for their final cars! From radiator inlets, sets of the intercooler, exhaust components to garage equipment, Additive Manufacturing is improving their part performance.
2. Reinforced wind tunnel testing
In the motorsports industry, it is very important to test the models, unfortunately, teams competing in races like F1 don’t have many opportunities to test their vehicles. That’s why wind tunnel tests are so essential. To imitate the conditions of a race, a smaller model of the car is placed in a treadmill and different forces, such as wind forces, high speed etc, are applied.
Additive Manufacturing is a great asset to wind tunnel testing. It is very popular in this industry, as it offers faster, more efficient and cheaper models than traditional methods. If the prototype of a part or whole model needs adjustment, 3D printing is the quickest technology to produce a new version.
It is as easy as adjusting the 3D model and simply 3D printing it again. No other technology offers such a fast solution as Additive Manufacturing. The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team has been using SLS technology to produce as many as 300 parts per day! They successfully manufacture internal ducts, hand deflectors or engine covers for wind tunnel testing.
3. Rapid prototyping? Only with 3D printing
As you know, motorsports vehicles are built out of many parts, which need to be absolutely secure and fully functional. To achieve the ultimate form, weight, strength, and resistance the parts have to be tested and many prototypes are needed to get all the requirements covered.
Additive Manufacturing is the answer to that. It is cost-effective, rapid and highly accurate. The prototypes can perform and behave very similarly to the final part allowing for the tests to provide accurate data and analysis. A Formula 1 team reported 3D printing over 2000 parts per month! This number would be impossible to reach in such a short amount of time with traditional manufacturing methods.
Find out more about prototyping with 3D printing with our Top 10 of the best 3D printed prototypes.
4. New design freedom
Design is a huge part of production in motorsports. The vehicles have to be sleek and perform outstanding aerodynamics in order to even compete in races. This means very little and compact space for the actual car parts.
Other than being fast and cost-effective, 3D printing offers absolutely new design solutions. It not only allows for quick adjustments to car parts and rapid prototyping but also great flexibility in producing and testing totally new ideas. Adaptations can be made quickly, which improves the production, cars and single part performance.
5. Highly customized tooling
In the motorsports industry, many engineering solutions have to be highly personalized, might require custom-made tools to assemble the parts and the parts itself might be complex.
Thanks to Additive Manufacturing the engineers can now manufacture components that are robust, strong and meet the requirements of just those specific parts. From jigs and fixtures to high- performance tooling, developing those accessories and parts can truly make the difference between winning and losing.
You can also start benefiting from Additive Manufacturing
3D printing technologies for plastic, resin, and metal are not only available to Formula 1 teams. There are plenty of opportunities for you to improve your production with lightweight parts, rapid prototyping, and customized tooling. Take a closer look at different techniques and materials: which resin should you use for your project, or which plastic would be best for you, but maybe your choice is prototyping with metal 3D printing?