3D Printed Racing Parts Help Win Indy 500

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) driver Takuma Sato is the 2020 Indianapolis 500 Champion. To compete for wins in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES requires constant performance and safety based modifications to the car. 3D printing is used to quickly develop, fit, test and even race multiple parts for the car. It has allowed RLL to speed up and refine the entire process, for design, testing and production of race-ready performance parts and pit-use parts.

Using an MfgPro230 xS to revisit the brake system

Racing in IndyCar is highly demanding on the brake system. The vehicles on track can regularly see temperatures reaching 900°C or higher, which must be cooled down before the next lap for maximum effectiveness. The brake system has ducts that force air into the rotors and calipers when running so the heat can be dissipated. The issue is when the car stops the brakes soak heat. The temperatures can be high enough to ignite surrounding equipment. Keeping the brakes cool while in the pit is imperative to maintaining the integrity of the brake system. The fans must be easy to install and remove to keep in line with the very tight schedules demanded of the team during the sessions.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) used selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printing with an XYZprinting MfgPro230 xS to answer an important issue: brake heat soak.

The MfgPro230 xS from XYZprinting produces high performance parts in PA-12, TPU and other engineering grade materials. The output is highly accurate and reliable. In this case the large parts needed exceeded the build volume of the MfgPro230 xS, however, the accuracy of the output allowed the RLL team to easily create an assembly of interlocking parts. On top of this, the parts have the ability to easily be painted or dyed which was needed in this trackside application to comply with series rules.

“Using XYZprinting’s Selective Laser Sintering technology we were able to improve the performance and capability of a critical trackside brake cooling system. The robust materials were easy work with and tough enough to build a brake cooling system that can endure a full season,” said RLL Director of Engineering, Tom German.

Nylon Part Properties Win for Value

The ability to fit large pieces together and with inserts and electromechanical features allows for serviceability and complicated designs that would otherwise be unable to be manufactured. The ability to make a tight-fitting piece that also must conform to complicated shapes is only made possible through 3D printing. The PA-12 provides the strength to keep up with the grueling demands and repeated punishment that go along with racing.

The mechanical properties, accuracy and versatility of the MfgPro230 xS’ PA-12 parts have proven to allow the RLL team to design and manufacture the racing parts that were otherwise deemed not able to be manufactured. The ability to make running parts or to rapid prototype parts before production for test fitting has proven incredibly invaluable.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan has been using XYZprinting’s 3D printing technology since 2018. It has, without a doubt, contributed to their driver Takuma Soto’s Indianapolis 500 win this year.

Download the case study here!

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