Nov 6, 2017 | By Benedict

The Bloodhound SSC supersonic car has made its first public runs, hitting 210 mph in 8 seconds at Cornwall Airport Newquay in the UK. The car, which has a 3D printed steering wheel tailored to driver Andy Green’s specifications, is targeting a world record land speed of 1,000 mph.

Around 3,500 spectators were present in Cornwall for the first public runs of the Bloodhound SSC, a UK-made vehicle aiming to shatter the land speed world record of 763.035 mph.

Although the test drives didn’t come close to the vehicle’s targeted 1,000 mph, they still wowed an audience containing members of the public, VIPs, and members of the BLOODHOUND 1K supporters club.

The Bloodhound SSC went down the 9,000-foot (2.7km) runway two times, accelerating at a rate of 1.5G and hitting a speed of 210 mph in just eight seconds. Not record-breaking fast, but fast enough to excite driven Andy Green, who also holds the current land speed record.

“The Car is already working faster and better than we expected,” Green said. “I cannot wait to go faster!”

Helping Green hit these phenomenal speeds is a tailor-made titanium 3D printed steering wheel. Because the steering wheel is only made for one driver, its engineers did not have to take into account the various considerations generally required for a mass-produced product.

“When a feature needed to be confirmed or adjusted, we simply had to print a model and ask Andy to hold it,” explained Jez Clements of Cambridge Design Partnership, designer of the steering wheel.

“Luckily for us, Andy has an extraordinary clarity when it comes to what he likes and dislikes, and this process quickly led to an optimized design, with adjustments to the button locations, the handle geometry, and the clearance for his legs.”

Moreover, because Clements and co only needed to 3D print a handful of steering wheels—one main version and a few backups—they were able to employ a slow and considerate 3D printing process, ensuring nothing would go wrong.

The steering wheel, 3D printed in titanium by UK additive manufacturing giant Renishaw, cost around £15,000 ($19,688) to make. But Clements doesn’t consider the wheel a “luxury” item per se, since every element of the design is incorporated to achieve the Bloodhound’s ultimate goal of breaking the world land speed record.

Of course, the 3D printed steering wheel isn’t the only component propelling the Bloodhound to unprecedented speeds. The car is equipped with a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, normally found in a Eurofighter Typhoon, which gives the supersonic vehicle the combined output of 360 family cars.

Eventually, that powerful engine should propel the Bloodhound to speeds around five times higher than it recently recorded, but the Newquay runs showed promise for the project.

“Although 210 mph is far below the Car’s ultimate target of 1,000 mph, today was a proper workout for the vehicle,” Green said. “The Car is designed for high speed on a desert rather than sprint performance off the line, but it still accelerated from zero to 210 mph in less than eight seconds.”

Green added that the trials saw the car running for its longest period yet: around 21.5 minutes. For the ultimate record-breaking attempt, it will only need to drive for around two minutes.

The runway trials were the culmination of a month of testing at the airport, where engineers have been working on integrating the Rolls-Royce jet engine into the vehicle. Steering, brakes, suspension, data systems, and other elements have also been put through their paces.

“BLOODHOUND SSC is already performing like a thoroughbred racing car,” Green added. “Nevertheless, with this combination of runway length and what I have to do slow the Car down, these two runs represent one of the most difficult run profiles I will ever do in BLOODHOUND.”

The Bloodhound team will crank up the acceleration next year on a dry lake bed at Hakskeen Pan, South Africa. There, the supersonic car will drive on aluminum wheels that have even less grip than the low-grip aircraft tires used for the Newquay runs.

For now, however, the team will closely analyze the data collected from the test runs in order to refine every aspect of the Bloodhound ready for its world record attempt.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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