Jun 30, 2016 | By Alec

While still ongoing today in Amsterdam, Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016 has already become a big success with plenty to see. But one amazing project literally stood out, as you walked right into it when entering the convention hall. Dominating the Ultimaker stand was the gorgeous Audi B8 RS5 with an open hood. Visible inside was a large 3D printed intake prototype, which was developed by British engine engineers Eventuri to design the final carbon fiber intake system. And as Eventuri’s director Bilal Mahmood revealed, the new intake was not only designed at tremendous speeds thanks to 3D printing, but features a superior performance when compared to its predecessor.

For those of you who’ve never heard of them, Eventuri is a British developer of engine components for top quality cars. In particular, their focus is on optimizing intake performance. While such engine components are redesigned constantly, the British engineers were rarely satisfied with how new systems affected performance. “We decided to take things into our own hands and rewrite the book. To set a new benchmark in intake design and technology, above all – to engineer systems which provide real gains and then to publish genuine figures,” they said. “We are proud to be raising the bar and creating intake systems which are setting a new standard and genuinely improve the performance of your vehicle.”

Over the last few years, this has already resulted in numerous new intake systems that rely on cutting edge technologies to realize the best performance on every single front, whether its geometry, volumetric airflow, intake temperature or material performance. “Only the best materials are selected for each component – even down to the choice of fasteners and fixings in order to ensure that the quality of the end product is second to none,” they say on their website.

It is, in short, not exactly the place where you’d expect to find a desktop 3D printer that you or I might use at home. But as Director of Eventuri Bilal Mahmood revealed to 3ders.org at Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016 in Amsterdam, they have actually been using Ultimaker 3D printers extensively to design these paradigm-shifting intakes.

This is perfectly showcased by the exhibited Audi B8 RS5, which features an Eventuri intake that was completely re-engineered from the ducts to the filters and the inlet tubes. “The restrictive stock airboxes and duct feeds have been replaced with a highly efficient – fully sealed system with smooth transitions to allow the airflow to remain full and laminar,” the makers revealed.

Whereas traditional intakes feature a geometry that limits airflow velocity, the patent pending Eventuri system provides an aerodynamically efficient airflow path from the filters to the throttle bodies. As a result, throttle response is sharper, the low-mid range torque is increased to make the car feel more aggressive and eager, while the top end power is increased. In terms of performance, the Audi gained 15-20hp and 12-18ft-lb at the wheels.

To be sure, that engine performance is not realized with simple ABS or PLA components. The final parts were made from a prepreg carbon fiber, which optimizes strength and minimizes heat transfer. But as Mahmood revealed, 3D printing was instrumental in the Audi intake design process, allowing them to cut prototype development time down to just three days. With conventional techniques, in contrast, that same process would take weeks or months. “We can quickly prototype stuff once the design is done, and again quickly reiterate the prototype if it doesn’t fit correctly,” he told us.

The original intake (below).

In fact, they use 3D printing for all their intake development – and for more than one reason. 3D printers are also so easy to transport, allowing the Eventuri designers to travel to the cars, instead of having to transport the cars to them. “We had a recent project with a Lamborghini, which is obviously difficult to find. We had a client in Germany, who offered to lend us his car for development purposes, but we only had a three day window from start to finish,” Mahmood said. “So we shipped three Ultimaker 3D printers to Germany, I went there with my tools and we basically designed and 3D printed it over three days. We did three variations, and came to a final design in that time period, purely because of the speed and accuracy of the printing.”

During that process, they also always use Ultimaker technology, and the Audi intake was designed using Ultimaker 2+ and 2+ Extended 3D printers. “The Extended allows us to go higher. Especially for the Lamborghini, we could make one single print and it was done. We’ve been using Ultimaker for the last four years, even before the company was founded. We just found that it was very reliable, and it was one of the biggest build platforms at the time,” Mahmood revealed. “But the main thing is reliability. We don’t have time to worry about the 3D printing. We need to make sure the 3D printer works.”

What’s more, he added, the Ultimaker software is very accessible and easy to learn. “It’s very self-explanatory; it’s just a matter of experience,” he said. “Once we have the right settings, we don’t have to change anything.”

So what’s next for Eventuri? As the director revealed, 3D printing has become an indispensable part of their workflow and will be extensively used for coming projects as well. “We are working on new cars constantly. We are working on the new BMW M2, which is coming out soon. We are also working on some supercars; we always have new projects we are developing,” he says. “3D printing is key.”

 

 

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