The team has been incredibly lucky with the degree of support we are receiving from industry. A highlight of the last few months is without a doubt the arrival of a 3D Ultimaker printer. Beyond the enjoyment each member of the team has felt when witnessing the rapid prototyping of customised parts, which the printer allows the team to create. It has also dramatically improved the design process as we are able to quickly print sample components, which allows us to have a scale 3D model of each new part. This increases the efficiency of the iterative design process as well as ensuring that any new parts are fit for purpose.
One of the parts for which the printer has been especially useful is the hub assembly – the prototyping has allowed us to ensure that when we enter the manufacturing process everything will align correctly, thus saving us time and money. The printed products allow us to check clearance issues – making sure that the basic layout of the components doesn’t interfere with other parts.
Seeing the items in 3D rather than on a computer modelling programme also allows the team to look into whether the dimensions of the parts are as efficient and strong as possible – we can look at the thickness of components and decide whether they need to be altered to ensure they perform at the optimal level. The evolution of the design allows us to ensure that parts are simpler and cheaper to produce, whilst still performing as required.
There are some parts which we are going to create on the printer that will actually end up on the car itself, including components from pedal box – a key part of a successful car. This means that the parts created throughout this process are going to unique to our car, as they have been customised and designed entirely for us on our car. Continuing the theme of uniqueness, the team is going to produce gifts for any donors or sponsors using the printer – this adds another façade to the way we operate as a business, showing how the use of the Ultimaker Printer will pull the team forward across more than just the engineering aspects of Formula Student.
University of Leicester Racing Team