World’s First 3D Printed Titanium Internal Combustion Engine Features in Student Team’s Shell Eco-marathon Car

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[Image: Shell Eco-marathon]

The Shell Eco-marathon, which holds competitions each year in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, invites innovative students from around the world to compete by developing the most energy-efficient cars they can, and stimulate important conversations about how we can responsibly meet the needs of our world. This marathon, while still a race, focuses more on environmental sustainability and energy efficiency than it does on crossing the finish line first or breaking any speed records.

We’ve seen other teams use 3D printing technology to make their Eco-marathon cars, but a team from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand just created, designed, and built the world’s first 3D printed titanium internal combustion engine (ICE) for their car in this year’s Eco-marathon Asia.

Team EnduroKiwis (which is the best team name ever) won a Vehicle Design (Urban Concept) award at last year’s competition, for making a completely recyclable car out of vacuum-formed thermoplastic.

Their 2017 car was the university’s first entry in the international competition, and a world-first as well, but the UC engineering students wanted to kick things up a notch this year.

The 2018 entry builds on last year’s award-winning car, using the same thermoplastic body, but adding a 3D printed titanium engine, which runs on sustainable, carbon neutral ethanol. 3D printing to create engines for rockets, drones, and planes has been on the rise. When it comes to race cars, usually the engines themselves aren’t fully 3D printed, but rather certain key components.

The UC car, and the first ever 3D printed internal combustion engine, were unveiled at the university for the first time this past week.

“Our main focus has been on the development of our own 3D-printed single-cylinder internal combustion engine,” said UC’s Eco-marathon student team leader Robbie Murray. “The development of our own engine purpose-built for efficiency offered a challenging yet rewarding goal.”

2017 cars line up for the family portrait.            [Image: Shell Eco-marathon]

While winning the Vehicle Design award last year was great, the 2017 team was sad to have missed out on the final, which is why they pushed themselves to do something completely new with their vehicle entry this year.

The UC team and its one-person car, complete with 3D printed engine, will compete in the international 2018 Shell Eco-marathon Asia in Singapore next month, which will attract more than 100 teams from universities and institutes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Murray said, “We’re excited to show our car to the world and put New Zealand on the map in Singapore this year. Over the past year, the team has worked incredibly hard to produce not only a competitive vehicle, but one that demonstrates fresh and forward-thinking ideas. We want to define who we are as New Zealanders, and our drive to create bold and innovative solutions to the problems with which we are faced.”

The UC team’s Eco-marathon car was designed to only travel a distance of about 135 km, and the fuel tank only holds 330 ml of fuel – working out to be around 400 km per liter of fuel.

UC Design Engineer Bruce Robertson, with the UC Mechanical Engineering department and the team’s mentor, said, “Every year our UC Engineering students challenge themselves with ever more out-there ideas, and I’m incredibly proud that they’re so effective at turning them into reality.”

UC Engineering Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Evans-Freeman and Eco-marathon student driver, Ben Murton, unveiled the 2018 Eco-marathon car, powered by the world’s first 3D printed titanium engine. [Image: UC]

Owen Hey, Wells General Manager from Shell New Zealand and a UC Engineering alumnus, had a chance to attend the launch event for the car and its 3D printed engine, and expressed how “delighted” he was with how the team was embracing the challenge and its difficulties.

“Watching the students develop the car over the last 12 months, I’ve been amazed with their bold ideas and their determination to push the boundaries – this has led to them achieving two world-firsts within their first two years of competition,” Heys said. “The first 100% recyclable thermoplastic car last year and this year the first 3D-printed titanium engine.

“It has been a privilege to be able to support and advise the team. And I can tell you that you can definitely teach an old dog new tricks because I learnt plenty from the team along the way, too.”

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

[Source: University of Canterbury]

 

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