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NASCAR is a fan of new technology – anything that can make cars drive faster or more smoothly, or help to construct them more efficiently. One  team that has been especially involved in the use of 3D printing is Team Penske, which has been in action since the 1960s and has won 174 NASCAR victories. Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski has 27 career victories of his own on the top circuit, but driving isn’t his only interest – he’s also become involved in advanced manufacturing. As it happens, those interests often overlap.

Keselowski ran his own truck team, Brad Keselowski Racing, for a decade before shutting down in 2017. At that time, he alluded to a new business venture, which turned out to be Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a North Carolina-based business that specializes in hybrid additive manufacturing and CNC technology. Keselowski first learned about additive manufacturing from Joe Hoffman, who ran the manufacturing department at Team Penske. Hoffman left the team to start his own company, FiberWorks, a carbon fiber engineering and manufacturing company, and Keselowski began to do his own research into advanced manufacturing.

He admits that at first, he was “skeptical” and “cynical” about the technology.

“Additive manufacturing has been around for a while, but it’s been in plastic,” he says. “There’s something to be said for printing something in plastic. The reality is, plastic parts don’t very often go on race cars or spaceships and things of that nature. There’s only so much you can do with plastic. Plastic is great for a desk toy. It’s not great for an engine of a race car. I had thought of additive manufacturing off the plastic brand, per se. There’s a metal component that’s much newer and has much less maturity that is really the revolutionary topic in my mind.”

When he talks about metal additive manufacturing, however, Keselowski gets excited. He believes that the technology is going to “improve the human experience in a significant way.”

[Image: Tony Gutierrez/AP]

“Metal additive manufacturing, to me, I don’t want to oversell it, but it feels like the new Internet,” he says. “It’s the technology that’s going to take us not just to space, like we’ve been, but space like going to Mars. It’s the technology that’s going to make us live healthier and longer. If you look at some of the medical tools that are out there, they are made possible only by 3D printing out of metal.”It’s the technology that’s going to enable things like nuclear fusion because of the doors it opens in cooling and exotic materials that were previously closed have somewhat prohibited nuclear fusion from developing. This technology is potentially going to open those doors. And that’s just the start. We don’t know how big it’s going to be. We’re limited by our own imagination, much like the early days of the Internet.”

He points to additive manufacturing’s potential for using exotic materials, as well as the complex parts, such as passageways and lattices. The greatest example of what 3D printing can accomplish, he adds, is the GE Aviation LEAP fuel nozzle, which just this week saw its 30,000th part produced. He’s also intrigued by what the technology can offer the medical industry.

Many people fear advanced technology as a threat to manufacturing jobs, but in Keselowski’s opinion, 3D printing is just the opposite – it’s going to open up many more doors in the manufacturing industry. Different doors, perhaps, but still doors.

“There’s going to be a wave of high-end jobs coming up for this sector,” he says. “We’re looking for people that are four-, six-, eight-year college grads because the technology is hard to do and requires an advanced understanding. You might still call them blue-collar jobs, but they’re really high-end blue-collar jobs. It’s almost a new color of manufacturing job.”

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

[Source: SportTechie]

 

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