We’ve discussed 3D printed cars and car parts before, but there’s one specific sector of the automotive world that has quietly but passionately utilized 3D printing technology for quite some time: the high-speed and high-stakes world of Formula 1 racing, and other motorsports. One 3D printing company in particular, Stratasys, has been teaming up with the racing community multiple times over the last couple of years, even winning the ‘Motorsport Technology of the Year’ award back in 2014. Stratasys recently signed a four-year agreement with McLaren Racing as its official 3D printing solutions provider, and in 2015, helped an IndyCar driver stay on the track with an in-car 3D printed medical apparatus.
This week, the company announced a new multi-year relationship on the track with Team Penske, one of the most successful teams in the long history of professional sports.The two have formed a technical partnership, so Stratasys can help give the team the kind of competitive racing edge it can only get from customized 3D printing.
Stratasys, Team Penske’s Official 3D Printing Solutions Partner, will not only provide technical support services, but also cutting-edge equipment to the team’s manufacturing and engineering efforts in both its IndyCar and NASCAR racing platforms. Stratasys will provide the team with innovative 3D printing solutions so they can create rapid engineering prototypes and tooling. 3DPrint.com reached out to Stratasys to learn a little more about what specific 3D printing equipment and material will be used to work on solutions and parts for Team Penske.
Tim Cindric, Team Penske President, said, “Our strategic partnership with Stratasys should keep our manufacturing and engineering processes at the front of the pack. Stratasys is on the cutting edge of additive manufacturing technology for automotive applications. Utilizing their equipment and technical support will provide us with another means to put our ideas on the race track first.”
Jim Vurpillat, Director Automotive and Aerospace at Stratays, told 3DPrint.com, “Team Penske will have access to all of Stratasys technology both FDM and PolyJet and our entire suite of materials.”
Race cars prepared and owned by Team Penske have won nearly 450 major races, and the team currently competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and the Verizon IndyCar Series, along with a Dick Johnson Racing partnership, as DJR Team Penske, in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. So obviously, the cars need to be in tip-top shape. We asked Vurpillat to expound upon any specific automotive parts, or tooling solutions, that Stratasys will initially target with its new partnership.
As evidenced by the amount of motorports and 3D printing partnerships we’ve covered, from the recent Formula Student racing team working with Ogle Models and the 2015 partnership between EOS and Formula One champion Williams Advanced Engineering, to the PICASO 3D-sponsored 3D printed NE Bauman racing car, 3D printing certainly seems to be giving a leg up to the entire racing community. It makes sense: these custom vehicles need to be fast, lightweight, and technologically advanced. Many of the high-tech advancements that race cars originally enjoyed have made it to the vehicles that you and I drive to the grocery store and back every day, like stability control and anti-lock brakes; this is often referred to in the automotive industry as “tech transfer.”
“Obviously, there are many prototyping applications, whether those are for a quick design validation or trying out a functional prototype,” Vurpillat told us. “We will also be looking at tooling applications and manufacturing aids (jig and fixtures) as well as composite tools. We also see applications for production parts as well.”
Taking an even deeper look, other industries besides just the automotive world can benefit from the additive manufacturing work that goes into manufacturing these custom race cars, because they face the same types of challenges – like needing to reduce costs and development time, and optimizing the weight and performance of production parts. There are other sports industries that benefit from 3D printing technology as well, like snowboarding and track.
In terms of the new partnership between Stratasys and Team Penske, the former says its goal is to “test our additive manufacturing solutions and applications in the most aggressive and competitive environments available.” We asked Stratasys how involved with the motorsports and racing industry the company expects to become over the next few years.
“We see motorsports as a great way to further our applications and technology quickly given the fast moving pace of racing,” Vurpillat told 3DPrint.com. “Many of the same needs in racing translate directly to requirements of the auto industry at large – the need to shorten development times, iterate designs, lightweight parts and vehicles and significantly reduce tooling expense.”
Stratasys plans to engage with its customers, and highlight its newest racing partnership, by giving tours of Team Penske’s facility, and showcasing its 3D printing solutions and offerings through product demonstrations and technical talks.
Rich Garrity, President Americas at Stratasys, said, “We are proud to be a part of Team Penske and look forward to working with them over the coming years to drive their NASCAR and IndyCar teams to victory. Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions are being increasingly adopted by the world’s top motorsports teams and manufacturers. The engineering-grade quality, high throughput and wide choice of materials our 3D printing solutions provide are a perfect fit for the customized tools and innovative part designs our automotive customers demand.”
Next week, both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begin in Daytona, Florida; the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins March 12. Buckle your seatbelts! Discuss in the Stratasys Penske forum at 3DPB.com.
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