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McLaren’s F1 Team 3D Prints Parts Trackside

Last month, when McLaren Racing went to the Bahrain Grand Prix, they brought with them “something the motorsport [had never] seen trackside: a 3D printer.”

Engadget reports “the Formula One team has confirmed that as an expansion of its partnership with 3D printing specialists Stratasys, it [has raced] with print ‘race-ready’ parts for the new McLaren MCL32 car in order to quickly integrate design modifications and reduce its weight.”

“The parts included carbon fiber reinforced nylon material hydraulic line brackets, rubber-like flexible radio cables, brake cooling ducts, and rear wing flaps, which help increase the rear downforce on the car during high speeds.”

As has been the case in a myriad of other industries, “3D printing has reduced manufacturing time from weeks to days or even hours, which helps the team during testing and when readying its cars for race days.”

As Neil Oatley, McLaren Racing’s Design and Development Director explains, “we are consistently modifying and improving our Formula One car designs, so the ability to test new designs quickly is critical to making the car lighter and more importantly increasing the number of tangible iterations in improved car performance.  If we can bring new developments to the car one race earlier – going from new idea to new part in only a few days – this will be a key factor in making the McLaren MCL32 more competitive.”

As for the actual 3D printer McLaren racing used: it was Stratasys’s uPrint SE Plus.  On top of this, “McLaren Racing [also] employs more complex machinery at the McLaren Applied Technologies headquarters in Woking, England.  Both fused deposition modelling (FDM) and PolyJet printing technologies are being used for prototyping new car models, production tooling, and development of custom parts, which McLaren hopes will translate to faster race times on the track.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Engadget

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