Aug 7, 2015 | By Simon

When it comes to highlighting the potential of additive manufacturing technologies, some of the most promising applications that we’ve seen yet involve the use of various 3D printed parts in working automobiles.  While it’s one thing to use a 3D printed part for a tabletop prototype, the ability to function as a working part in a larger, complex and heavy machine assembly is truly remarkable.   

More recently, 3D printing played a critical role in a number of automobile designs created by engineering students for various automotive competitions that have been held in Europe this summer.  

Among others, at the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe, a fuel-efficiency challenge which took place in Rotterdam in July 2015, the Iron Warriors team from Poland used a Zortrax M200 to 3D print various components of their automobile design to keep the weight low while ensuring that the parts were durable enough to be used in the vehicle.

“By using 3D printing technology, we could reduce the weight of the vehicle and boost the score in Rotterdam,” explained Szymon Madziara, a member of the Iron Warriors.  The vehicle ended up covering an amazing 640 km on a liter of fuel.

“3D printed gear, which is a part of propulsion transmission, is both durable and 3 times lighter than if we did it with the aluminum. To reduce the mass, we have 3D printed parts for carrying heavy loads, and then cover them with carbon fiber. The effect was fantastic, so we decided to use this technique for our next vehicle – the goal is to score 1,000 km on 1 liter.”

Just a week after Madziara and his team found success at the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe,  the world’s largest student motorsport event took place at the legendary Silverstone track in the UK.

The annual Formula Student challenge that takes place at Silverstone challenges engineering students around Europe to design, build and race a single seat racing car in just a single year.     

For the last two years, the KU e-Racing team from Kingston University has taken first place with their electric car design and, unsurprisingly, they wanted to do it again.

Similar to Madziara and Iron Warriors team that had raced just a week before at Shell Eco-Marathon Europe, the KU e-Racing team also turned to the Zortrax M200 3D printer to produce a number of parts that helped brought the overall weight of their car down while maintaining durability.  Additionally, the team used the 3D printer to create a model of their car that they used in a wind tunnel to further analyze air resistance and make the necessary design changes.  Among other improvements they were able to make based on their 3D printed model included maximizing the downforce of the car for better handling.

It's no surprise that both of these teams turned to the Zortrax M200 3D printer, either.  The printers, which are designed for and used by organizations of all sizes, have been recognized with a Design Alive Award for best strategist and for Zortrax M200 (2014), 3D Hubs Best Plug & Play Device (2014), and 3D Hubs Highest Rated Desktop Device (2015).  

Between the performance of these two teams, it’s clear that the use of 3D printing in creating custom auto parts isn’t all just about hype - it actually delivers results, too.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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