Formula 1 expert McLaren Racing meets FIA requirements in terms of time and budget for 3D printing tens of thousands of parts. The engineering team currently produces up to 9,000 parts per year for most front and rear applications, as well as large body parts and upper body parts.
They report significant progress in improving vehicle aerodynamics during wind tunnel testing thanks to the precision of the parts produced by FA. The production time of parts is also greatly reduced. Large parts, such as model car tops, can be produced in just three days.
At its site in Woking, England, McLaren has a group of in-house printers that are used to manufacture all aerodynamic parts. Their production environment includes metal 3D printers and stereolithography processes. This is what the Neo®800 stereolithographic 3D printers are from Method.
Using 3D printers in-house has many advantages: it saves contractor costs and the associated quality assurance process. This is a good situation at the moment because, with the sport going through uncertain times and not receiving any income during the Covid, the FIA has decided to reduce the budget level from $ 175m to $ 145m for its first year of operation. in 2021, then up to $140 million in 2022 and up to $135 million in 2023.
By using SLA specifically, the team can save a lot of time and expensive metal materials by not wasting large amounts of chips removed from the reduction process.
Wind tunnel testing remains the primary program here
“The technology and materials of stereolithography have changed, we have changed the way we use them “, Explain Tim Chapman, Head of Additive Manufacturing at McLaren Racing. ” We don’t just make models; we now produce many large components and full size tools. »
One of the key applications where McLaren feels the next-generation Neo800 is most important is wind tunnel test. The team uses 60% scale structures to improve the aerodynamic package and increase downforce (and therefore grip), and balance the front and rear loads of the car.
” Wind tunnel testing is still important to assess the behavior of each surface, whether it is an assembly or a complete car. “, explains Tim Chapman. ” Our 3D printers from the Neo series have allowed us to significantly reduce the production time of our aerodynamic components and projects in the wind tunnel.. »
Teams publish those fields using Somos® PerFORM Reflect resin, which was designed specifically for wind tunnel models. It can create strong, complex parts that reduce processing time by 30%.
Chapman continues: We’ve found that the high-quality components from our Neo machines require less hand-finishing, allowing for faster wind runs. In addition to speed, we can now produce wind tunnel parts with incredible precision, detail and surface finish, which has allowed us to improve testing and come up with innovative ideas to improve performance. I can’t stress enough how important this advantage is in Formula 1, where the deadlines for delivering cars to the next race are very tight and small design iterations can make the difference between winning, losing or advancing.. »
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