Credit: 3D Systems

Last year, OEM 3D Systems and Stewart-Haas Racing – a NASCAR racing team based in Kannapolis, North Carolina – entered a three-year partnership to rapidly design, prototype, and create durable parts. As part of NASCAR 2024, the OEM’s engineering team helped the Ford team enhance the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse.

Together, they optimized the aerodynamic performance of the 2024 NASCAR Ford Mustang Dark Horse and relied on AM to simplify the testing of various body panel shapes.

Using 3D Systems’ SLA machines and 3D Sprint software, they developed a race car body that marries the aesthetics of the 2024 production car with the aerodynamic needs of competitive racing.

In general, getting a new race car body shape approved by NASCAR involves expensive and time-consuming full-scale wind tunnel tests. To achieve that goal, the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysts at Stewart-Haas Racing and 3D Systems first designed various body panel concepts using CAD software. These virtual models are then tested in a simulated wind tunnel to determine the most promising designs.

Once the optimal shapes are identified, they are converted into solid CAD models for 3D printing. Technicians use 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software to orient these models for printing, optimizing for time, quality, and quantity. The files are then printed using 3D Systems’ ProX 800 SLA machine, creating precise parts that can be assembled onto the substructure of the full-scale car.

Additional 3D-printed tiles can be added or removed to test various aerodynamic concepts during wind tunnel evaluations. Each test run yields valuable data on aerodynamic performance, enabling engineers to fine-tune the car’s body shape.

All images: 3D Systems

This process repeats until the car meets the necessary aerodynamic specifications. After extensive testing and refining over several months, the final body shape is submitted to NASCAR for approval. Once approved, the design is used to manufacture carbon-fiber body panels for the 2024 racing season.

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