McLaren Honda brings 3D printer to track and will race parts during 2017 season

Stratasys FDM and PolyJet 3D Printing Solutions are being used to produce final 3D printed race-ready parts for the 2017 McLaren MCL32 Formula One Car. The technology will also, for the first time, be used at trackside to produce parts and tooling on demand for immediate evaluation during tests and races.

The goal is to bring about new car developments earlier by moving from idea to component in a shorter timeframe, by accelerating design modifications and reducing weight to increase performance.

The team has already 3D printed a structural bracket to attach the hydraulic line on the MCL32 car using Stratasys FDM technology, leveraging a Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer with carbon-fibre reinforced nylon material. The bracket was produced in just four hours compared to an estimated two weeks using traditional manufacturing processes.

In addition, to better control brake temperatures, McLaren Honda 3D printed sacrificial tools to create hollow composite brake cooling ducts. These wash-out cores were 3D printed using ST-130 soluble material, developed specifically for the application, and then wrapped with carbon-fiber reinforced composite material and autoclave-cured at elevated temperatures. The final result is a tubular structure with very smooth internal surface finishes to ensure the required airflow to brakes, whilst maintaining maximum aerodynamic and car performance.

Rear Wing Flap

A large rear wing flap extension designed to increase rear downforce was manufactured in carbon fiber-reinforced composites using a 3D printed lay-up tool produced on the FDM-based Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer. The team 3D printed the 900mm wide, high temperature (>350°F/177°C), autoclave-cured composite structure with ULTEM 1010 material in just three days, saving time in a critical limited testing period.

“The ability to test new designs quickly is critical to making the car lighter and more importantly increasing the number of tangible iterations in improved car performance,” said Neil Oatley, design and development director at McLaren.

“If we can bring new developments to the car one race earlier, it will be a key factor in making the McLaren MCL32 more competitive.”