In an ongoing coverage dedicated to show how AM solutions’ providers help students acquaint themselves with AM technologies, we will add the recent collaboration of 3D printing service bureau 3DPRINTUK with Team Bath Racing, a team of students engineers that is taking part in the Formula Student competition in the UK.
Following the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the team will compete later this month for the prestigious 2021 title after a hiatus in 2020 due to Covid-19. According to Conor Smith, the Outboard Suspension Designer & Sponsorship Coordinator TBR21, Undergraduate in Mechanical with Automotive Engineering (MEng) at the University of Bath, “being part of TBR is an incredible opportunity. There is real value in being involved in this competition because it provides us with real-world skills and experience of high-end engineering — an essential requirement for potential employers. These days automotive / F1 team employers actively look for ‘Formula Student’ among graduate candidates.”
As a sponsor of the project, 3DPRINTUK has been producing some final car parts for the team.
“We’re using 3D printing with plastic and metal materials. Obviously, our supplier / sponsor of choice was 3DPRINTUK for the plastics, where we are developing more and more end-use parts, although metal is still dominant for structural parts”, Smith notes.
3DPRINTUK has produced the plenum for the TBR21 car in Nylon 12 material. This is a large volume container that sits between the turbo charger and the engine air intake. The plenum is a performance part that ensures that the engine takes in air as efficiently as possible. Essentially, the more air, the more fuel is burned, and the more power is produced. It is a relatively complex part 250 mm x 150 diameter, with a closed, mostly hollow volume, and features an intake port and an outlet port. It is not effective to machine. According to Smith, the 3D printed part looks excellent and performed well in testing. 3DPRINTUK produced the plenum using the MJF process with Nylon 12, which Smith said is a new process to the TBR21 team, but it was much more cost-effective than the SLS process for the same part. The results showed no obvious performance difference.
3DPRINTUK also printed a range of components for the front wing of the car using the SLS process and Nylon 12, including aerofoil sections and strakes that are bonded on to the front wing to guide airflow around the tyre. According to Smith, “If they were not 3D printed, they would have to be formed out of carbon fibre, which takes at least five days. With 3DPRINTUK they take one day. Moreover, they have a similar weight to carbon fibre which is important for car performance, and while carbon fibre might be more durable than the Nylon 12, for this application the trade-off is worth it.”
“All at TBR would like to thank the team at 3DPRINTUK for their support in manufacturing 3D printed components for our race car. We’ve been overwhelmingly impressed with the quality of parts produced, and look forward to our continued partnership together.”
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