While you might still be learning about the UK’s Renishaw and their global metrology services, when you hear their name in connection with 3D printing you can be assured that it’s going to be an exciting story. They’ve offered their 3D printing innovations for ventures into a wide range of industries and even sports, from aerospace to motorbike racing.
Now, Renishaw—also famed as a manufacturer of industrial metal 3D printing machines—is back in the realm of the Land Rover BAR team as they work tirelessly toward seeing that America’s Cup won next year in Bermuda. And as we’ve seen in many competitive venues, this is a team that relies on 3D printing to get them where they need to go fast, and with intense customizations. As the Renishaw team points out, Land Rover BAR has also instituted artificial intelligence and big data analytics into their daily operations. This is thanks to an ongoing collaboration with their Technical Innovation Group (TIG), of which Renishaw is a partner.
The Land Rover BAR design office is home to a 3D printer, which the team is well-familiarized with, motivated to use this new technology as they have seen the benefits already for prototyping and customization of parts.
“We use 3D printing at three different levels within the team. The simplest level is as a prototyping and visualization tool. We manufacture a large number of custom parts and 3D printing allows us to make full size prototypes in-house before we commit to a design,” said TIG project manager, George Sykes of PA Consulting.
“But the top level of our 3D printing program is the metal additive manufacturing supplied by Renishaw. The manufacture of custom parts in metal is the cutting edge of this technology.”
Not only is the team enjoying their on-site 3D printer, they have a complete machine shop at their disposal, and a composites team that can make nearly anything. They seek to use 3D printed parts whenever possible due to the many advantages, and especially the affordability factor. The Renishaw team points out that they are using 3D printing to its fullest over traditional technology in creating inexpensive, lightweight quality designs that can be made expediently—rather than spending an inordinate amount of time and money on a small part like an end cap for the boat’s bowsprit, a complex piece that can now be made in just a couple of hours and at minimal expense.
“The prototyping process is really useful when we are trying to develop something. It allows us to get our hands on it, put it in place on the boat or link it up with other parts of the system and see potential issues and refine the design before we commit to the production of the final piece,” said Land Rover BAR’s Chief Technology Officer, Andy Claughton.
In a recent blog from Renishaw, we’re privy to the process Land Rover BAR uses, making their parts from extremely thin layers of metal powder melted with a laser. The team caught on to the wonders of 3D printing in metal quickly with one of their first parts: a custom sheave case for the pulley in the daggerboard lift line. In using 3D printing, they were able to have both strength and a lightweight quality all in one.
“The potential of additive manufacturing in terms of saving weight and improving efficiency is tremendous. For example, we took a long hard look at our hydraulics system. Before 3D printing came along all the parts in this system would have been manufactured by taking metal away from a solid block. The shapes that you can create with this method are limited, so the design is limited and so too is the efficiency,” explained Claughton.
“Hydraulic fluid doesn’t take kindly to going around hard corners for instance, and there is a loss of power when it has to do so. With traditional techniques this might be the only way you can manufacture the part, but with additive manufacturing you can build it with smooth rounded corners that significantly improves efficiency in the fluid transfers involved.
“In addition to the improvements in efficiency, we can now build it much more lightly as we are only adding material specifically where it is needed. In the past, the geometry of manufacture on a lathe or other cutting tool meant that some material couldn’t be removed and we would have to carry around the excess weight. No longer.”
With competition for the America’s Cup fierce and secrets to their success a must, the team doesn’t give out much on details. We do know that Renishaw is responsible for making several hydraulic parts, reporting that due to 3D printing a new manifold design they reduced waste by 60 percent and increase performance by 20 percent.
“Our involvement with Land Rover BAR is also helping to raise the bar in additive manufacturing. It’s a complex manufacturing option and there are considerations both in component design and process expertise,” said David Ewing, Product Marketing Engineer at Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division. “The best applications are ones which use the minimum amount of material to achieve the design requirements, offer a functional benefit in service and have been designed with the manufacturing method in mind. Our work on hydraulic parts for the team is a perfect example.”
“Renishaw is at the top of this particular game and they have really helped us out with their facilities. This is one technology that’s here to stay and its role within our build processes will only increase in the future,” concluded Claughton.
If you are following the 2017 America’s Cup, find out more about Land Rover BAR and their Technical Innovation Group here. You can also explore further in-depth regarding Renishaw’s 3D printing in metal here. Discuss in the America’s Cup forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Renishaw]