Jet Car Dragster Gets 3D Printed PEEK Upgrades

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Florida company nScrypt makes flexible biomanufacturing, microdispensing, and 3D manufacturing equipment for industrial applications. In turn, we’ve seen the company’s solutions used for a variety of applications, such as bioprinting, communications, defense, chemical/pharmaceutical, defense, electronics, life science, printed antenna, printed electronics, solar cell metallization, and even space. But one thing we haven’t seen a lot of from nScrypt’s machines is use for applications in the automotive industry—a fact that’s changing now.

The company, which is a spin-out from research and development think tank Sciperio Inc., has just announced that Larsen Motorsports, also headquartered in Florida, will be using its nRugged Factory in a Tool (FiT) 3D manufacturing system to print gaskets for jet car fuel pumps. Specifically, the 3D printed gaskets will be used in the afterburner fuel system of driver Elaine Larsen’s Generation 6 jet car dragster.

Elaine Larsen in her new Generation 6 jet car dragster (Image courtesy of Larsen Motorsports via Facebook)

“The jet racing industry standard afterburner fuel pumps that most jet cars use were produced in the 1960’s. We have a very large inventory of surplus afterburner fuel pumps, but all of them have seals that are now deteriorated beyond serviceability,” explained Chris Larsen, the CEO of Larsen Motorsports and husband of driver Elaine Larsen. “When nScrypt showed us how we could 3D print new seal sets, we were instantly interested. We are now testing the nScrypt 3D printed seals currently with a 100% success rate.”

According to its website, Larsen Motorsports is one of the world’s largest turbine-powered motorsports drag racing companies. But in recent years, the company switched lanes and became not just a racing team, but also a high-performance vehicle development and R&D center. The Larsens work with high school and college students looking to become the next generation of drag racing specialists, and the facility has full concept, engineering, design, and operational capabilities in-house.

The nRugged FiT is the first and, according to nScrypt, only 3D printer for use in harsh environments, though I know that SPEE3D’s systems have also been tested off the beaten path. It features a 150 x 150 x 150 mm heated print bed, up to four tool heads for milling and polishing, microdispensing material extrusion, and pick-and-place, and can run for up to 48 hours with a fully solar-charged battery. Optional equipment includes in-process monitoring and control with Target View and Process view cameras, and the nRugged works with over 10,000 different materials.

To 3D print the jet car fuel pump gaskets for Larsen Motorsports, high-performance thermoplastic PEEK (polyetheretherketone) was used. This material features excellent chemical resistance and mechanical strength up to high temperatures; good news for Larsen, since the gaskets spent six months soaking in jet engine fuel before being installed in the dragster’s fuel pump.

“We are excited at the opportunity to collaborate with Larsen Motorsports on its Gen 6 jet car dragster, which is an ideal platform for 3D printing and testing both mechanical parts, like the fuel pump gaskets, but also 3D manufactured electronics, which are our systems’ sweetspot,” said Mike Newton, nScrypt’s Director of Electronics Packaging.

(Source/Images: nScrypt, unless otherwise noted)

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