Since November 2013 when Cardiff Racing were supplied with an Ultimaker 3D printer, our knowledge of rapid prototyping has expanded dramatically, and furthermore allowed us to realise the potential of such technology. Not only have the team been manufacturing prototype parts, but they have also printed components that have been used on the actual car.
Following success at Silverstone in July, where Cardiff Racing was the highest ranked Welsh team, third in the UK, 9th worldwide and the fastest car without an aerodynamic package, Ultimaker supplied the team with a the latest version of their product in the Ultimaker 2. This has allowed the team to print prototype components twice as fast, and also use the newer product for its additional capabilities.
During the year the team have also completed a series of tensile and compressive tests to benchmark the material properties of printed components. Figure 1 below shows some tensile samples the team have made, where the fill density has been changed and the strength benchmarked. Having received the Ultimaker 2, the team intend to continue this testing and research using ABS and nylon also.
As previously mentioned, Cardiff Racing were the fastest team at the Formula Student competition that did not use an Aerodynamic package. Following this and the introduction of new aero rules for 2015, the team have spent the summer investigating the benefits, and quantifying how it’ll benefit the performance of the car. During this time, some wing sections have been printed using the Ultimaker 2 that will be used for wind tunnel testing to quantify the downforce and drag the wings produce.
Additionally, these wing profiles have been modified so they can be included on the finished vehicle. This allows the team to experiment with wing angles, to achieve the best performance and adjustability during testing.
Additional to the images here, the team are investigating the possibility of 3D printing moulds so we can make wing profiles from Carbon Fibre. With the ability of the Ultimaker 2 to print in ABS or Nylon materials, there is much better scope to expose these parts to heat inherent in composite curing cycles.
As well as allowing the students in the team to print anything in their imagination that will benefit the performance of our racing cars, it also allows them to gain experience in using CAD and understanding what is possible in this impressive technology.
In the following year, Cardiff Racing aims to incorporate more Ultimaker printed components into the finished racecar than ever before. There are already parts for 2015s competition fully designed and awaiting manufacture. Dashboards, gearshift paddles, air ducts, aerodynamic components, sensor mounts and nosecones are among just some components that the Ultimaker will aid us in designing and manufacture!
These updates are continually being shown on our social media streams and within the University. We have been receiving complements for our use of innovative manufacturing methods since our partnership with Ultimaker, and we intend to continue pushing the boundaries of 3D printing!