Today, Automotive industry is one of the key sectors embracing and endorsing 3D printing besides aerospace, robotics, and education. Automotive industry uses the technology not only for the components, equipment, tools but also for customisation of parts. For ex: wall panels, car doors, bumpers.
3D printing functional parts has become more pervasive in the automotive sector, especially with the embracing of the additive manufacturing technology, selective laser sintering. But the ultra-lightweight MCLaren 720S has created headlines because of its fully exposed exterior made from carbon fibre, combined with the use of 3D printed parts to enhance the vehicle performance.
We will go through the people behind the innovation, the difference it makes to high-end vehicle functionality and why the McLaren 720S could mark the start of a new age in the manufacture of high-performance cars.
McLaren 720S Light-weight advantages
Experts in aftermarket carbon fibre and ECU tuning, 1016 Industries functions on exclusive and exotic cars across the world and has already used 3D printing technology for prototypes and manufacture of the spare parts. They strived alongside Abushi to produce the main parts for this ultra-lightweight 720S sports car.
The fully functional parts of the special edition model are up to around 9% lighter than the original factory model, With the combined use of 3D printing and carbon fibre dropping its weight from 1419 kg. Founder of the 1016 industries, Peter Northrop says that the main objective was to see how 3D printing and carbon fibre processes could function together in auto design. The new model is the outcome of years of extensive field testing and design validation. He states that it’s no secret that 3D printing creates a way for more nimble manufacturing but the process has also permitted engineers to use improvements to the ‘quality and precision of each functional part.’
How were the 720S parts made?
Historically, automotive parts manufacture is a broad process encompassing the use of combined parts for the creating panels. But, using an extremely high-resolution resin 3D printer used for making large scale models, the 720S parts were made in just 120 hours and with one single piece, that helps to accentuate the structure of the part.
The full process, which resulted in thousands of hours of engineering, meant that prototype as well as final designs were able to be made. The company now foresees tooling to be created via 3D printing for the moulds of the 720S and possibly other performance cars it works on in the future.
3D printing in the auto industry
As the call increases for greater performance in standard vehicles, as well as performance cars, 3D printing creates a way for the manufacture of more performance enhanced features, and an improvement in the overall production process with the application of 3D printed tooling equipment.
3D printing to help enhance sports car performance
When it comes to sports vehicles like the Mclaren 720S other manufactures, such as Porsche, have also encompassed the technology into their prototype production. More recently, the company made 3D printed aluminium pistons for the engineering of its iconic 911 GT2 RS model, in partnership with mechanical engineering company, Trumpf, MAHLE. The inclusion of the 3D printed pistons supports greater efficiency to enhance the HorsePower of the vehicle. Frank Ickinger, Porsche project team leader said that the technology makes it possible to reach 30 PS more power from the 700 PS biturbo engine, and at the same time, efficiency is improved.
A new age in 3D printing for performance vehicles?
The overall developments in 3D printing across the auto industry have been magnificent, however, as the first to use ‘000’ carbon features, together with additive made parts, the engineering of the McLaren 720S potentially marks one of the most exciting developments in 3D printing.
Besides the possibility of producing the vehicle body components in the large scale manufacturing process and intends to do more with 3D printed components for the other high-performance vehicles it works on, the story for 3D printing for performance has not reached the conclusion yet. Combined with mainstream vehicle manufacturing’s commitment to 3D printing adoption and continued research, it appears like we can certainly expect further developments all round in the automotive sector.