Durable material 3D printing and carbon fibre composites help optimise racing performance
The partnership between CRP USA and U-Vic Formula Racing has produced many functional parts over the years using carbon fibre filled composites and laser sintering as a manufacturing process. These components are characterised by their versatility, mechanical properties and durability.
The versatility and mechanical properties of functional components made from Windform materials are well recognised by experts and insiders. One of the latest examples comes from the world of Formula SAE. Luke Wooldridge, Powertrain Lead of U-Vic Formula Racing at the University of Victoria, says: “As in previous years, the industry judges at the competition were very interested in the parts that CRP USA 3D printed for our race car”.
The partnership between CRP USA and U-Vic Formula Racing has been going on for some time now, and has involved the production and fitting of several components, including the steering wheel and elements of the engine lubrication system, which have become integral parts of the car. Let's take a closer look at these parts.
The team designed new oil and water sumps to better integrate with the chassis packaging. These components were made from Windform SP, one of the carbon fibre filled composites in the Windform range of professional 3D printing materials. The Windform SP held up particularly well to the high heat of the overflowing oil and coolant. Luke Wooldridge says: “There was no significant damage to either module with the water coolant temperature reaching ~125°C and the oil reaching ~150°C”.
This year the team had a new faceplate made for their steering wheel to use with the improved driver control switches. The part was made using Windform XT 2.0, another carbon fibre filled composite from the Windform range. Luke Wooldridge adds: “Windform XT 2.0 provided a better finished part as none of our in-house prints could provide the heat, impact and direct sunlight resistance that the part required”.
3D printed parts from previous years used in the current car
Continuing with the car's powertrain system, CRP USA has helped the U-Vic team develop a number of iterations of the oil pan over the past few years, each made from Windform SP due to its impact and high temperature resistance. “The flexibility of the manufacturing process has allowed us to reduce the overall height of the oil pan and incorporate anti-slosh features such as one-way baffle doors directly into the print,” says Luke Wooldridge.
By reducing the overall height, the team was able to lower the position of the engine in the chassis, lowering the weight distribution of the car and improving dynamic performance on the track. CRP USA also 3D printed a custom oil pickup to match the oil pan design, again using Windform SP. Speaking about the steering wheel, Luke Wooldridge says: “In our control system, CRP USA helped us immensely with the steering wheel and it has become a centrepiece of our car, especially at showcases where we can pass the wheel around and give everyone a hands-on experience”. The main body of the wheel is made from Windform XT 2.0, while the handgrips are made from Windform RL, the thermoplastic elastomer from the Windform range of materials.
U-Vic Formula Racing's aerodynamic system uses front wing inserts printed in Windform XT 2.0. These inserts act as a transition from the central wing element to the two outer elements and also provide the attachment points for the front wing to the chassis.
The intake used by the U-Vic team was manufactured in 2019 by CRP USA from Windform XT 2.0. The intake has held up well since then, lasting the team through 4 seasons. Luke adds: “During our competition we had block temperatures of up to 125°C and we experienced no warping or deformation at the mating surface between the cylinder head and intake. This thermal stability is critical to the reliability of our car, as any deformation at this surface could lead to a catastrophic intake leak, which would put us out of the race”.
The U-Vic Formula Racing Team has recently redesigned the intake to be larger and with a more optimised geometry for airflow into the engine. This new intake is again made from the Windform XT 2.0 composite. Discussing some of the technical features of the new intake design, Luke says: “Thanks to the manufacturing capabilities of CRP USA, we were able to drastically increase the overall size from 1.41L to 4.24L, while still having the print resolution necessary to print sealing surfaces and sensor mounts directly into our intake without the need for post-processing. The larger intake has allowed us to move from curved to straight intake runners, improving the simulated efficiency of our airflow by 100 percent”. The new intake is expected to be up and running in the next few weeks.
Luke Wooldridge concludes: “The durability of all the components 3D printed by CRP USA is incredible. To be honest, we put a lot of pressure on these parts when we are out on the track and they continue to deliver. For example, during testing this year, we hit a traffic cone hard enough to shear the bolt that attaches the front wing to the chassis and bend our aluminium mounting arm without damaging the Windform XT 2.0 wing insert that is attached to the other side.”