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University of Wollongong dusts auto racing competition with 3D printing

Adam Bender | May 28, 2014
University prints custom parts for Formula-SAE race car competition

With 3D printing, students have been able to do more complex and tightly integrated designs on the intake that help the engine to perform better, he said.

He also pointed to significant time savings from 3D printing the parts.

"Previously, fabricating an aluminium intake would take probably two to three weeks."

With 3D printing, it takes about one day to produce the intake and another day to assemble, he said. "Within two days, we'll have gone from a model on a computer to a part on a car."

The end result has been better performing cars.

In 2012, the university's first year using 3D printing, the university finished in third place, its best placing in three years, he said.

While this year a mechanical failure unrelated to the 3D-printed parts upset the university from a strong finish in the race, it saw its highest result since 2006 in the pre-race competition for vehicle design.

Tarlinton said that shifting from the traditional manufacturing approach requires learning "how to open up your mind to the complexity of 3D printing." He predicted that each successive Formula-SAE team at the university will find new and innovative ways to incorporate 3D printing into race car production.

"We're still coming to grips with using the current technology to its full potential," he said. "We're nowhere near the full potential of the printers yet."


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