As of my last update in September 2021, 3D plastic molds were already being used in various industries, including automotive manufacturing, for the production of racing car parts.
The use of 3D printing technology has been steadily increasing in the automotive sector due to its numerous benefits, such as faster prototyping, design flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
Here’s how 3D plastic molds are typically utilized in the manufacture of racing car parts:
Prototyping and Design Validation
3D printing allows automotive engineers and designers to create rapid prototypes of racing car parts before finalizing the design. This enables them to test and validate the fit, form, and function of the components without the need for expensive tooling.
Customization and Optimization
Racing cars often require parts that are tailored to specific performance needs. 3D printing allows manufacturers to produce custom-designed components, which can optimize performance and reduce weight to enhance the overall efficiency of the vehicle.
3D printing can produce parts with intricate geometries that are challenging or impossible to achieve using traditional manufacturing methods. This capability enables designers to create aerodynamic and structurally efficient components for racing cars.
For racing car parts that are needed in small quantities or for one-off builds, 3D printing offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional injection molding. This is particularly beneficial for low-volume racing series and custom-built racing cars.
Reduced Lead Times
Using 3D plastic molds can significantly reduce lead times in the production process. Instead of waiting for tooling to be manufactured for injection molding, 3D printing allows for quicker turnaround times, which is crucial in the fast-paced world of motorsports.
Tecnun is a formula racing team from the University of Navarre in Spain. It is responsible for the design and manufacture of student racing cars for participating in international formula events. Under normal circumstances, it takes at least three weeks to produce aluminum molds for racing components using traditional methods. The race is imminent. What secret weapon will the team use? The team began to come into contact with this new technology-3D printing technology. Due to strict production plans and budget constraints, Tecnun has been testing various other additive manufacturing technologies as faster and cheaper alternatives in the past in anticipation of production. Manufacturing tools. However, it was found that the plastic was not strong enough and fractured during the construction process.
With the wave of Industry 4.0, 3D printing technology has once again been pushed to the forefront. 3D printing service, also known as additive manufacturing, is a technology that builds objects based on digital model files and uses bondable materials such as powdered metal or plastic to print layer by layer. The wonderful thing about 3D printing technology is that it greatly simplifies the production of complex parts, from traditional subtractive manufacturing to additive manufacturing, and the focus of the molding process shifts to the micro-molding control of the same layer and adjacent layers. At present, 3D printing technology has been widely used in the medical and aerospace fields. “In fact, automobile companies are one of the earliest users of 3D printing technology, even before its application in the aerospace and medical fields. As early as the development of 3D printing technology, some automobile companies in developed countries in Europe and America used 3D printing technology. In the field of automobile development and small-batch trial production. The biggest contribution of 3D printing technology in the automobile industry lies in the mold development stage. Judging from its application status, it does lag behind the development of the medical and aerospace fields, but it also means that it is in the automobile industry. Field applications have more opportunities and potentials.”
After continuous attempts, the Tecnun team finally found the right choice-using Stratasys’ additive manufacturing technology, the team can produce extremely complex 3D printed molds for the key components of the race car within a few hours. Importantly, using the time saved in the production process, the team was able to further update its design and develop a final carbon fiber component that was 60% lighter than traditional production methods, thereby increasing the racing performance on the track .
Javier Aperribay, technical director of Tecnun Motorsport, said that the key to success lies in the design of the intake manifold, which ensures that enough air reaches the engine cylinder and is a key component to increase speed. Aperribay explained: “Because the intake manifold is composed of some important components, these components are essential for the air distribution along the four intake manifolds. Therefore, the manufacture of the intake manifold is extremely complicated. Our goal is to make carbon fiber The intake manifold is manufactured in composite materials, but we are well aware that the manufacture of such parts requires molds to construct composite materials and manufacture the final parts. Computer numerical control machining is used to produce aluminum molds, but this is usually an inflexible and A costly process. In addition, any subsequent design modifications related to the mold will delay the project and increase additional costs.” By using Stratasys Fortus 450mc printers and ST-130 materials, Tecnun has successfully produced components such as intake manifolds. And other molds.
Compared with aluminum molds, ST-130 has superior solubility characteristics, making the shape of the intake manifold more complex, eliminating the need to assemble all individual parts. Now the team can complete the production of the 3D printing mold for the intake manifold within 5 hours. Unlike previous additive polymer materials, this material can operate at 121°C and the mold will not break during the test, which helps to achieve the best combustion response and improve track performance.
Since technology and manufacturing techniques continually advance, it is possible that by 2023, 3D printing and the use of 3D plastic molds in racing car part production have become even more prevalent and sophisticated. To get the most up-to-date information, I recommend checking with experts in the automotive and motorsports industries or consulting recent sources on additive manufacturing and 3D printing applications in automotive manufacturing.