At the IMechE Formula Student racing event, students are challenged to design and fabricate a single seat race car that they will then race against other student teams. Like so many other Formula Student teams, the students at Coventry University turned to 3D printing for their car. The goal is to manufacture a car that performs exceptionally in terms of acceleration, handling and braking, while also being reliable, easy to maintain and low-cost. 3D printing lends itself perfectly to these qualifications, allowing the students to keep costs low while creating robust, high-performance parts.
Ogle Models and Prototypes is no stranger to making 3D printed automotive components, having worked with Formula Student teams in the past to fabricate parts for their cars. So the service bureau wasn’t taken by surprise when the Coventry team, which calls itself the Phoenix Racing Team, asked for help creating 3D printed intake runners for their competitive vehicle. The team even had a special connection to the company – Coventry alumnus Matt White is now a Senior Sales Engineer with Ogle Models and Prototypes. White graduated from Coventry with a degree in Motorsport Engineering and played a crucial role in the 2012 Formula Student team.
“It has been a pleasure working with The Phoenix Racing Team at Coventry University this year. They are an amazing bunch of designers and engineers with such creative ideas,” said White. “The competition is a prestigious one, aimed at helping innovative engineers showcase their technical, engineering design and manufacturing skills, and we’re very proud to support the next generation of racing car designers. In our day-to-day lives at Ogle, we’re working on parts for several global car manufacturers and it’s great to bring that industrial 3D printing expertise to Coventry University.”
Ogle Models and Prototypes has produced parts for everything from airplanes to the Mars Rover, so 3D printing parts for a student race car was no problem at all. The company used Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS, to 3D print the intake runners, as the parts would be complex and require superior accuracy. They also needed to be airtight. Ogle chose Nylon PA2200 for the parts, as it met the strength and temperature resistance needs of the intake runners. It was also the most cost-effective material available.
“We didn’t have the right on-site facilities to be able to produce the manifold runners, so we took to finding a reliable supplier with great reviews,” said Ross Miller, team leader for the Phoenix Racing Team. “Ogle’s reputation speaks for itself and we knew they’d already been involved in student projects before. It was great to work with the team. Matt responded to us so quickly, he visited us and ran through the requirements and then turned the part around in three days. They’re the best people to speak to and gave us so much more testing time than we’d anticipated. I’d recommend Ogle for any prototyping or 3D printing in the future.”
The Formula Student competition will take place on July 13th and 14th, and will this year celebrate its 20th anniversary. For the first time, the competition will feature an autonomous vehicle class, demonstrating how the organization is looking towards the technology of the future. It’s a safe bet that more than a few student race cars will feature some 3D printed parts, as well, turning the race into not just a competition but a technological showcase.
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