As SME’s RAPID conference headed for its home stretch, so did a slew of 3D printed slot cars on the exhibition floor. The 2014 3D Printed Slot Car Championship, sponsored by Materialise, pitted the designs of over 35 cars against each other for speed, creativity, innovation, and popularity.
Materialise’s Managing Director, Bryan Crutchfield discussed the purpose of the event prior to the race:
“Our goal was to put the potential of AM in the spotlight, and showcase how it can benefit design, both functionally and aesthetically and I think our contestants did just this…we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with regard to the full capabilities of 3D printing.”
The car’s creators were required to create their vehicles using additive manufacturing for all parts except the chassis, motor, axles, and wheels. This restriction didn’t stifle creativity however but rather seemed to encourage it. Contestants were provided with a file of the chassis and the rest was only as limited as their imagination. The vehicles were created using techniques such as stereolithography, fused deposition modeling, direct metal laser sintering, and selective laser sintering and in every material from aluminum to plastic to magnesium – one was even created using all three. After finishing their designs, the contestants used Magics software by Materialise to prepare the car for print.
The completed and printed car designs were the culmination of a yearlong design project which many companies used as a fun addition to their regular work load. Andrew Rogers from Proto Labs said that “making the body for the slot car competition was a great, collaborative project for us” and other comments from teams around the world echo the sentiment. Charlotte Dalaere talked about the experience on the Materialise blog:
“Not everyone is so lucky to spend a work day racing slot cars…once I tried it out for myself, I realized how fun and competitive it can be.”
It’s easy to see from watching this video just how appealing an outlet the event is for the creativity and energy of members of the AM community. Entrants ranged all the way from veteran RAPID attendees to high school students. One student from Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School managed to create the car that came in second, quite an accomplishment for one so new to the game. Another student from Focus Hope had the opportunity to work with engineers from Materialise to learn about designing for 3D printing.
First place in the championship, after a number of excitement filled rounds, went to Stewart Murray of Takata. The reigning champion along with each of the winners in the other categories of fastest car, most innovative use of 3D printing, most original car, and crowd favorite walked away with, appropriately enough, a 3D printed trophy…and the desire to return next year.
If you were involved in this race, and built your own vehicle, we’d love to hear from you in the 3D printed slot car forum at 3DPB.com