University Team Races to the Finish Line with 3D Printed Automotive Components

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3D printing is seeing increasing applications in the racing world, and whether racing cars, superbikes, or even concrete canoes, using the technology to design and build components for racing vehicles can definitely help speed up production and cut back on costs. China-based Farsoon Technologies, which released both its FS271M metal 3D printer and its industrial plastic laser sintering eForm this year, has worked on developing race cars for the Chinese University Student’s Formula Race Car Competition for the last few years, and has spent the past month using its 3D printing technology for race car applications, gathering information in an in-depth case study.

The intense annual car design and manufacturing competition is organized each year by college engineering students, and some student teams use 3D printing to accelerate the race car design process; Farsoon has collaborated with the competition for five years. The company sponsored the championship-winning Hunan University team back in 2014, and is providing technical support for the team from the Changsha University of Technology (CUST) for this year’s race.

Successful race cars need to be lightweight, and possess outstanding mechanical properties and precision. Using 3D printing to lower the weight of the vehicle, as well as improve its design, can significantly increase its performance, which is why the company and the Long Science and Technology racing team are working together to, as Farsoon explains, “redesign these prototypes for analysis while striving to achieve the best results to win on race day.”

Xiang Xiang, associate professor of the CUST formula race car racing team, said, “3D printing technology has completely changed the development process of college students formula racing. 3D printing racing parts can meet the needs of personalized customization, not only to ensure that parts are assembled precisely and quickly, but they can also be used to ensure the effectiveness of key functions.”

The nylon 3D printed air intake chamber effectively avoids the limitations of traditional processing technology while aiding in the lightweight, durability, and additional requirements of the race car.

The CUST team car is called the FNX-17, and is ready to hit the track with 41 high-strength, lightweight parts created with Farsoon’s 3D printing technology, including the intake assembly, steering control and column, and rocker. Typically, the production cycle for these race cars runs about six to eight months, but using 3D printing to produce the parts, rather than traditional processes like casting and forging, can majorly decrease this time.

Empty sets of front wing/tail, printed in nylon

Farsoon used both strong metals and polymers, like titanium and nylon, to manufacture 3D printed components for the FNX-17, resulting in a seamless body design that made the car both stiff and lightweight at just 225 kg. 3D printed car parts are comparable in reliability to parts made with other forms of manufacturing, due to their mechanical properties, and the parts for the FNX-17 helped it reach a maximum speed of 140 km per hour.

“The use of Farsoon 3D printing technology produced performance parts that were more stable. The use of aluminum and other materials, making the entire body lightweight, is conducive to speeding the car while withstanding the durability test,” said associate professor Yuan Xiang. “Through a series of tests and experiments, 3D printing technology is widely and maturely applied to the formula race car racing design and production to achieve a higher performance of the car.”

FNX-17

In order to cut down on costs and manufacturing difficulty, the CUST team and Farsoon modified some of the complex components of the FNX-17 so they would be optimized for additive manufacturing, such as the aerodynamic kit support structure, the exhaust system of the two-in-one interface, the intake manifold, stabilization chamber, steering system support structure, steering wheel, and suspension.

An aerodynamics kit offers high-speed race cars a significant lift to ramp up traction and grip on the track. Using 3D printing to make the truss structure flaps out of nylon makes them more precise and lightweight, in order to achieve a quality aesthetic and high level of performance. In addition, Farsoon used titanium alloy to print the front and rear hub integration, which helped reduce the weight of the part – this in turn reduced the race car’s rotating mass so it’s able to accelerate and decelerate faster.

Front and rear hub integration – cylindrical metal part that supports the vehicle’s weight while connecting the wheels to the car.

According to Farsoon, this case study is the first in a series of four that will show how the company used its 3D printing technology to improve the CUST team’s FNX-17 race car.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Images provided by Farsoon Technologies]

 

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