How 3D printing and CF composites helped a Formula SAE team

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CRP USA has worked with UVic Formula Racing to develop many parts that are functional using carbon-fiber composite materials. Laser sintering is the manufacturing process. These components are characterized by their versatility, mechanical characteristics and durability. Windform functional components are known for their versatility and mechanical properties. Formula SAE is the most recent example.

Luke Wooldridge, Powertrain Lead of UVic Formula Racing from the University of Victoria, said, “Like every year the industry judges at the competition were very interested in the parts that CRP USA 3D printed for our racing car.”

Since a while, CRP USA has been working with UVic Formula Racing to manufacture and feature several components. These include the steering wheel, and various elements of the engine’s lubrication systems, which are now integral parts of this car. Let’s have a deep dive into these parts.

How 3D printing by CRP USA and Windform carbon fiber-filled composites helped a Formula SAE team improve their racing performance
CRP USA has 3D-printed the CRP USA catch can

Catch cans and more for oil and water

The team developed new oil and water catchcans that integrated better with chassis packaging. These components are made of Windform SP – a carbon fiber-filled material in the Windform range.

The Windform SP was able to withstand the heat from the oil and coolant. Luke Wooldridge stated: “No significant damage was noted to either module with water coolant temperature reaching ~125C and the oil reaching ~150C.”

The team ordered a new faceplate for its steering wheel this year, to be used with the improved driver control switches. The part is made from Windform XT v2.0, a carbon fiber-filled composite.

Luke Wooldridge added: “Windform XT 2.0 provided a better-finished part as none of the in-house prints we made could provide the resistance to heat, impact, and direct sunlight needed from the part.”

Previous year’s 3D printed parts

CRP USA, in conjunction with the UVic team, has developed a series of oil pans over the past few years. Each one is made of Windform SP, which offers high temperature resistance and impact resistance.

“The flexibility in the manufacturing process has allowed us to design a reduction in the overall height of the oil pan and incorporate anti-sloshing features such as one-way baffle doors directly into the print”, Wooldridge stated.

Reducing the overall height allows the team to drop the engine’s position in the chassis, lowering the weight distribution of the car and improving on-track, dynamic performance. CRP USA has also made a 3D-printed oil pick up to match the oil pan design.

Regarding the steering wheel, Luke Wooldridge said: “In our controls system, CRP USA has helped immensely with the steering wheel, and it has become a centerpiece of our car, especially at showcases where we can pass around the wheel and give everyone a hands-on experience.”

Windform XT 1.0 was used for the main body, and Windform RL thermoplastic elastomer, from the Windform material range, was used for the hand grips.

UVic Formula Racing’s aerodynamics system uses front wing inserts printed in Windform XT 2.0. These inserts are used to transition from the center wing element into the two outer wing elements, and also provide the attachment points for front wing on the chassis.

In 2019, the intake that UVic used was made by CRP USA using Windform XT v2.0. The intake is still going strong, and has lasted the UVic team for four seasons.

Luke adds, “During our competition, we had engine block temperatures reaching up to 125 C and we experienced no warping or deformation at the mating surface between the cylinder head and intake. This thermal stability is critical to the reliability of our car as any deformation at this surface could lead to a catastrophic intake leak which would put us out of the race.”

UVic Formula Racing redesigned its intake recently to make it larger, and with a better airflow geometry. This new intake is made of the Windform XT 2.O composite.

Discussing some of the engineering characteristics of the new intake design, Luke said, “Thanks to the manufacturing capabilities of CRP USA, we were able to increase the overall size drastically, from a volume of 1.41L to 4.24L, while still having the print resolution necessary to print sealing surfaces and sensor mounting directly into our intake without the need for post-machining. The larger intake allowed us to transition from bent to straight intake runners improving the simulated efficiency of our airflow by 100%.”

The team hopes to start the new intake in the coming weeks.

Luke Wooldridge emphasized, “The durability of all the components 3D-printed by CRP USA is incredible. We ask a lot from these parts on the track and they keep delivering. For example, this year, during testing, we struck a traffic cone hard enough to shear off the screw attaching the front wing to the chassis and bend our aluminum mounting arm without damaging the wing insert in Windform XT 2.0 attached to the other side.”