Oct 7, 2016 | By Benedict

Cyclone Racing, an automotive racing team from Iowa State University (ISU), has used 3D printing to build an open-wheel race car for Formula SAE, an international car design competition.

For students looking to design, build, and test their own race car before pitting their machine against other collegiate teams, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Formula car competition is the perfect event. Far more than just a race, the competition encourages undergraduate and graduate students to build a prototype race car, whose potential as a production item is then evaluated by a team of industry experts. Each team builds a prototype based on a series of rules, with each vehicle inspected by judges to ensure that certain criteria has been met, and then gets to take their car out on the track for a series of performance-based tests. The largest SAE event takes place in Michigan.

Cyclone Racing, a student team from Iowa State University, has competed in a few SAE competitions, and this year took its CR-21 Cyclone Racing Car up a gear with the help of 3D printing technology. After a long and arduous planning process, the team decided it could 3D print the car’s intake, dashboard, and heel cups in order to save time, money, and weight. By 3D printing the intake, the students could create an internal geometry for the part which consisted of a smooth and gradually sloping inner wall, making the airflow smooth and allowing the engine to create more horsepower. Previous Cyclone intakes were made from several aluminum parts that had to be turned, milled, cut and welded together.

3D printed intake

While designing the 3D printed intake, the Cyclone team used FEA (Finite Element Analysis) to simulate the forces and stresses to which the part would be subjected during normal operation. Using this method, they could see exactly where the part needed most reinforcement and where it required less material. They were then able to optimize the 3D design based on this information, making areas of high stress denser than other areas, before printing the final part in Stratasys’ ULTEM 1010 3D printing material on a Fortus 450mc 3D printer.

After designing the 3D printed intake, the Cyclone team had a vastly improved part at their disposal. However, the students returned to the 3D printing process to create a 3D printed dashboard and heel cups. By using a 3D printer, the Fortus 450mc, and ABS filament, the team were able to adjust every element of the design cheaply and efficiently. While these parts did not need to be optimized in terms of density, as was the case with the intake, 3D printing them helped the team save time and money.

3D printed heel cups

Cyclone Racing, ISU’s automotive development team, is divided into four groups: Baja, focused on designs for extreme off-road performance; Clean Snowmobile, a specialist in efficient trail performance; Formula, designing parts for extreme on-road performance; and Supermileage, which is focused on fuel efficiency.

Overall, use of 3D printing has enabled Cyclone Racing to create a lighter, faster, and less complex vehicle, one with thinner walls, fewer components, and increased performance.

3D printed dashboard



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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