As professional racing and motorsports are relying more and more on additive manufacturing technologies, it only makes sense that the trend would also pick up in student-led racing teams. This year, for instance, the Brunel University London team competed in a number of Formula Student (FS) races with a car that was partially constructed using metal 3D printing. The race car, the BR-XX, was developed in collaboration with UK-based metal AM company Renishaw, which helped in the production of a 3D printed manifold part.
The Formula Student competition has become something of a tradition for Brunel University London, which this year marked its 20th year of participation in the FS races. The high profile student racing competition, which itself has existed for over 20 years, consists of a series of races at many of the major Formula One circuits, including Silverstone in the UK and ATA in Italy.
Unlike many traditions, the Brunel Racing team’s participation in the races is driven by innovation and new technologies. Excitingly, this year marks the first time the team has worked with metal AM, using the process as an alternative to carbon fiber and aluminum-fabricated manifolds.
By teaming up with Renishaw, the student racing team was able to achieve a more ambitious manifold design for the BR-XX, with a complex geometry that integrated dual stage fuel injection and improved port matching between the exhaust manifold and the engine. The complex part was optimized for production by the Renishaw team and was ultimately printed on its quad-laser RenAM 500Q system.
“Renishaw’s expertise and advice on how to design a part for the additive manufacturing process was invaluable,” commented Matthew Crouch, a Mechanical Engineering student and one of the managers of the Brunel Racing team. “To design for AM, overhangs could not be over 55° from the vertical axis on both overhangs and each part requires smooth transitions of cross sectional thickness.
“Additive manufacturing proved itself to be a much more suitable manufacturing method than a traditional approach. The final part performs better in the car due to its increased strength and we also had the added benefit of reduced post processing.”
“The applications of AM are broadening into ever more industries,” added Joshua Whitmore, Applications Engineer at Renishaw. “In many examples, it offers clear benefits over traditional manufacturing methods as you can simplify the manufacturing process or increase part performance. The growing use of multi-laser machines, such as the RenAM 500Q, allows for higher build rates, vastly improving productivity and lowering cost per part.”
Brunel Racing competed in both the FS-UK in Silverstone and FS-ATA in Italy this month, though sadly it did not take home any major Formula Student awards this year (MoRe Modena Racing, from University of Modena and Reggio Emilia from Italy were the top winners). Renishaw, for its part, is working with a range of sporting and racing companies and teams. For instance, the company is working with INEOS TEAM UK to give it an edge in the upcoming America’s Cup.