Derived from a student project at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, Germany, the collaboration uses FDM and PolyJet 3D printing technologies to design and produce engine parts for different cars.
Each year, these cars participate in the global Formula SAE competition, where teams design, build, test and race small-scale formula style cars, which are also judged on their design, fuel economy, acceleration and endurance.
Patrick Harder, team engineer, HTW Motorsport, says that 3D printing of complex parts is the fastest and preferred way of manufacturing race-ready airboxes. "As a university project, having access to Stratasys' [Objet500 Connex multi-material 3D Production System] printing technolgy offers us a massive boost," he says. "It enables us to develop the required parts much faster and incredibly more cost-effectively than we would otherwise be able to."
Adds Harder, "This has delivered proven, quantifiable benefits on the BRC14's airbox system, with a comparative increase in horsepower of around 10% versus the system we used two years before. We also enjoyed an increase in torque of almost 12% over the same timeframe."
"A well-designed airbox will draw air more efficiently and effectively into the engine and thus improve performance," explains Harder. "The role of 3D printing is fundamental, as it allows us to create a functional prototype which then becomes part of the final race vehicle."
"High temperature resistance and fuel resistance are vital prerequisites for the airbox, so Digital ABS is perfect," he adds. "This, and its high strength-to-weight ratio, make it the best material for the airbox's plenum chamber which requires a combination of toughness, unique geometry and high surface finish."
HTW Motorsport is currently designing its next car which will launch in June and compete in this year's race season. Once again, the team is incorporating 3D printed end-use race-ready parts into its construction, with the overall objective to further improve on-track performances by reducing the car's weight.