This fantastic contribution explains how the UBRacing team are using 3D Printing for developing their Formula Student competition racing car. We look forward to working closely with them again in the build up to the 2018 competition!
Formula student is an engineering challenge involving the design and build of a single-seater open wheel race car. The finished car is then taken to compete at one or more of the eight competitions worldwide, each competition sees the team tested in both static and dynamic events. The static events assess the team’s presentation of the design, cost and business of the project. Dynamic events test the car in acceleration, cornering, reliability and efficiency. The competition combines the need for innovative engineering, careful project management and organised teamwork.
UBRacing is the University of Birmingham Formula student team. We are the oldest formula student teams in the UK and were pivotal in the establishment of the UK event. Our team is full of passionate Engineering students and we dedicate most of our free time to the project. Unlike many of the teams, our project is entirely extra-curricular.
The 2016 car, UBR19, featured many ambitious changes. The team moved away from a steel spaceframe chassis and implemented our first ever hybrid carbon fibre monocoque chassis. Furthermore, we introduced a full aerodynamics package and a new ECU made by Cosworth. Due to limited time on the dyno our powertrain was not fully optimised and we suffered from power losses. With limited power we competed at Formula Student UK at Silverstone and achieved an 11th place finish out of the UK teams. After a week of tinkering, we then went out to Formula Student Czech Republic where we achieved 5th place in the Autocross event and entered the final day in a top 10 position.
The car for this season was the 20th in our history. Building from the changes implemented on the 2016 car, the number of new features was limited. The main issue from 2016 was not having enough time for dyno testing and so this was one of our main focuses for the year. We also produced a second iteration of the carbon fibre monocoque which was increased in size to improve drivability along with the tweaking of the lay up to reduce weight. The aerodynamics package was improved from the previous year with the introduction of a fourth element on the rear wing and extra elements on the front wing. The aerodynamics package was also manufactured in a new method which was written about by former F1 aerodynamicist Willem Toet, along with this we manufactured our second-generation carbon fibre wheel. We competed at Formula Student UK and achieved our best ever result finishing second overall, winning overall dynamics as well as winning the endurance event. We also reached the design final, finishing fourth in a close run event. Along with this we achieved second place in both the skid pad and autocross events.
Design is well under way for the upcoming season. This year we are going to have a third iteration of our carbon fibre monocoque. We aim to reduce the weight of our aerodynamics by improving the layup of the carbon fibre. We are also going to introduce a diffuser and begin a two-year plan to develop a new engine to introduce in 2019. We aim to finish in the top 10 at Formula Student UK and be the top UK team as well.
3D Printed Components
Our 2017 car features many components which were 3D printed. We chose to 3D print some components because it provides the strength that we needed along with the cheap and easy manufacture coupled with how lightweight the components could be made. One of the most vital components on the car, the intake, is 3D printed due to several reasons. Firstly, 3D printing is light as it can be printed hollow and therefore minimal material can be used. Secondly, because you can 3D print like this we are able to easily manufacture an intake which can evenly distribute the air between all cylinders due to the inclusion of vanes on the inside which would be incredibly difficult to manufacture by any other method.
Images left to right: LED fitted shift light indicator to attach to the dashboard. Steering column housing protecting the monocoque. Mount for the Dash to protect the expensive component. Boot for linking the upright and driveshaft.