Apr. 1, 2015 | By Alec

When talking about 3D printed race cars, the mind immediately wonders in the direction of 3D printed toy cars that can be used for racing. While those are great fun, that’s not at all what this article is about. For the DeltaWing Race car is exactly what it sounds like: a car using in professional racing. Debuting on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012, the DeltaWing has been a great looking participant in various races since then, competing in the United SportsCar Championship last year.

As its developers explain, the DeltaWing Racing Car is a radically innovative participant in the new era of sustainability in motorsports, boasting just half the weight, horsepower and aerodynamic drag of its competition. ‘The DeltaWing represents a major step forward in decreasing motorsport’s carbon footprint; its unique aerodynamic design dramatically reduces the amount of fuel and tires used during a race weekend and gives the car excellent straight line speed,’ they write.

Since its debut in 2012, that car has been radically redesigned. An entirely new operating team, crew, engine, and tire partner made for several new elements as the team took to the track. As there is very little time between races to make necessary changes to a car, the DeltaWing Racing Cars team and Élan Motorsports were faced with having to design a new engine from scratch. Fortunately for them, design engineer Christian “Skitter” Yaeger developed a new running engine in just 81 days, including a 3D printed intake manifold – the part of the engine that supplies air to the cylinders.

Resorting to 3D printing technology, alongside Windform SP for its construction, has allowed Yaeger and his team to realize phenomenal performances. In fact, the results have proven so wonderful that DeltaWing Racing Cars is looking into more 3D printed applications. ‘We could not have made this motor happen if we couldn’t produce parts directly from CAD files,’ Yaeger said. ‘The biggest benefit is being able to print exactly what you need. We have eight odd-shaped ports in the head, and CRP USA was able to match them perfectly, with a knife edge in between.’

These 3D printed materials have also been extensively tested. ‘With the coupe version, we went slightly less wild, and a little more conventional in our design. ‘Over the past two years, the 3D Printed manifolds have covered over 12,000 testing and racing miles, along with 6 hours per unit running on the dyno.’ Yaeger added. Just last year, these 3D printed components have been used in the following races: Daytona International Speedway’, Sebring International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen International, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and the Road Atlanta.

These parts were 3D printed in Windform SP, a composite polyamide based carbon-filled material. ‘The packaging constraints required by the location of the engine within the chassis requires some creative design,’ said Stewart Davis, Director of Operations, CRP USA. ‘The runner lengths attach at the base of the plenum and form a complex structure that would be extremely difficult to build without using additive manufacturing. Windform SP's toughness and heat deflection temperature allow the part to be built and then raced in the endurance series.  The engine is run under boost, so it sees pressure variation in addition to the vibration, shock, and temperatures changes associated with racing.’

And Windform SP, having excellent mechanical properties and an added advantage of increased resistance to shocks, vibrations, deformations, proved to be perfect for the job. Perhaps its most important quality? Resistnace to absorption of liquids and moisture. ‘The work done by Skitter and the DeltaWing/Élan Motorsports team is a great example of the application of Windform for a complex problem, and utilizing Additive Manufacturing to push the boundaries in racing,’ concluded Davis.

While a far cry from our own desktop 3D printers, it’s nonetheless wonderful to see such high-level industries relying on and praising the potential of 3D printing technology. How long would it take before seeing an entire 3D printed race car? 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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