Whether you sail or not, most everyone understands the epic excitement of the America’s Cup. There are teams around the world who train for years to cause an upset, as the race is run only when a qualified yacht club challenges the current club in possession of the Cup.
The next race will be held in 2017, as Bermuda hosts–with the potential to generate close to a quarter of a billion dollars USD. With Oracle Team USA defending the cup for Golden Gate Yacht Club, they have five other teams challenging them (see list below), to include the Land Rover BAR team, with BAR being short for Ben Ainslie Racing, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron.
And while Renishaw, the British engineering and additive manufacturing firm company with more than 70 offices in 33 countries, and around 4,000 employees worldwide, certainly has many impressive projects to their credit, it must be very exciting nevertheless to be part of building 3D printed metal components for the America’s Cup boats. Needless to say, these are high performance parts!
Many were in attendance last month at the Formnext Exhibition in Frankfurt to see examples of the metal parts that will be used, as well as learning more from Renishaw’s Dr Chris Sutcliffe and Marc Saunders about how they are making the components and employing both 3D printing and conventional machining to come up with superior pieces.
In a very informative video (also below), the Renishaw team also explains a little bit about what they did for Ben Ainslie Racing, but the components they show briefly are still very much shrouded in secrecy, should a competitor be inclined to watch closely. The stakes are high, after all!
“The reason we’re involved is mainly because of the technologies we develop through Renishaw,” says Dr. Chris Sutcliffe, Renishaw Research and Development Director, holding a small component in his hand, remarking on the finish, geometry, and complex details they are able to achieve for components such as the one that will be used in an America’s Cup yacht.
The complex components they are producing can be made ‘in one hit,’ says Sutcliffe.
“It’s a fantastic example of what you can do with additive manufacturing, but one of the key things that Renishaw is also able to offer is a whole host of downstream metrology and applications,” says Sutcliffe.
Marc Saunders, of Global Solutions Centres for Renishaw, explains that the parts are made with high-performance 3D printers that allow for products with complex internal features that simply could not be created any other way.
“Making a shape is not the same as making a product though, so we use gauging to check the dimensional integrity of the part,” says Saunders. “The next step is machining where we produce the precision, finished features that are vital to the manifold’s performance. Here we can apply metrology both to setup and control the machining process.”
With inspection of the finished components, the Renishaw team is able to promise a superior product brought together through 3D printing and machining. Over the next year, they plan to roll out numerous global solution centers opening to help customers attain hands-on experience with 3D printing, as well as developing strong processes for their own products.
Needless to say, the Land Rover BAR team is working hard to achieve a win for the UK against Oracle with £6.5million funded by the government for a base on the Camber in Portsmouth–and with Renishaw parts and 40 years of manufacturing history on their side, they will undoubtedly be sailing strong and fast. Discuss this story in the America’s Cup 3D Printing forum on 3DPB.com.