McLaren Honda prints cars for Formula 1 directly at the circuit
The McLaren Honda is now working on 3D printing to get the decisive seconds in the Formula One races.
For the first time, the Britons are printing cars at the race in Bahrain on Easter weekend. This means that the engineers bring improvements in the shortest time to the slopes.
Formula 1 is about seconds or even fractions of it.
For this, everything has to be right from the driver performance over the material to the optimal design. After all, the victory is not only driven on the track but also behind the scenes: in the workshop and in the box.
At the race in Bahrain, 3D printing has premiere
To secure this decisive lead, the Formula 1 racing team McLaren Honda is now working with Stratasys, according to his own opinion, world market leaders for additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
The PolyJet printers have been in use for some time in the workshop of the racing team.
To the race at the Easter weekend in Bahrain, the British take the printers for the first time to the racetrack.
In this way, the racing engineers can make individual parts ad hoc, mount them on the car and try them out right away.
However, not in the race itself: Essential spare parts, cables, screws and reserve tires will be available as usual in a conventional way.
For the concentrated hectic pace during the race even the fastest 3D printing takes too long.
Development on the edge of the circuit
Rather, the technicians want to use the time of free training to implement new ideas directly.
To print improvements, to test under real conditions on the track and to modify them if necessary, as long as the aerodynamics of the newly designed tailgate fits and also the last small bush remains flexible in the heat of the race.
In the meantime the races are so tightly controlled that there is hardly time for such tests under real conditions during the season.
So, McLaren Honda has moved some of the development to the race track.
All this is possible because 3D printing is much faster than conventional production.
For parts that last two weeks, the printer takes just two or three hours.
If everything does not fit, the component is printed once again ,until everything is optimal.
This is the case with a support for the hydraulic line in the MCL32 and a socket for a new two way communication and data system, whose cables had to be tamed in order not to disturb the driver.
This still happened in the in house development department and was tested in the wind tunnel instead of on the race track, but the principle was the same.
Faster, lighter, more accomplished
In this way, the racing team gains a valuable lead over the competition!
While the other teams are still thinking, testing and testing, McLaren Honda has already passed various tests and the race ready part is in use.
And, more easily, the pressure pieces of a cross linkable, liquid photopolymer, which the Stratasys 3D printers spray into the support surface similar to inkjet printers, are usually a further component on the hunt for decisive seconds breaking parts in the race.
The material does not, of course, damage the parts of the 3D printer: in the case of the support for the hydraulic line, for example, they used carbon fiber reinforced nylon material.
The PolyJet printing process does not pose a problem for various degrees of hardness in a single work piece, the printer manufacturer emphasizes.
Even before components such as brake cooling lines, the team does not stop.
The difficulty here: In order to ensure an optimal airflow inside the parts, the pipes must be extremely smooth inside, and above all hollow.
This has been achieved by printing a kind of placeholder made of specially developed, particularly smooth material, which has been melted at the end, into the enveloping carbon-reinforced composite material.
Both partners benefit
Not only for the racing team and all other development departments of the automotive engineer and technology company McLaren, but also for the printer manufacturer, cooperation results in new possibilities.
Like McLaren Honda, Stratasys uses the series of experiments in the workshop, the wind tunnel and the race track to develop its own process, to work on materials and printer settings.
In turn, McLaren Racing and other automakers and manufacturers will bring new efficiency, says Andy Middleton, President of Stratasys.