Nissan Motor Sport – 3d Systems – Evok3d 3d Printing Event
I attended a “3d Printing” technology sessions called Updates & Insights – 3d Printing 2.0 organised by Evok3d on behalf of 3d Systems covering what Nissan Motor Sport racing team is doing with 3d Printing.
The next big race that Nissan Motor Sport teams will compete in is the Bathurst 1000 as of the writing of this post. They have been using 3d Printing as one of the ways to be race ready and competitive.
Bathurst 1000 The Ideal Test For 3d Printing
For people that are not familiar with car racing or are not from Australia the following is a short overview of the Bathurst 1000. The Bathurst 1000 is one of Australia’s biggest motor racing events. It is a 1000 kilometre touring car race. It is now an official round of the Australian V8 Touring Car series. The Bathurst 1000 has tons of history and can be traced back to 1960, it has been know to attract over 200,000 avid fans for a weekend.
Perhaps what sets this race apart is the unique track with amazing runs the cars make down Mount Panorama. If you are at all into motor racing it is worth a look. To have a vehicle perform over this distance on such a gruelling and diverse track like Bathurst, is an ultimate test of vehicle and drivers.
3d Printing Attracts Diverse Interest
The 3d Printing event put on by the collaboration of 3d Systems / Evok3d and Nissan was a real eye opener. It was very well attended. One of the most interesting things was to see the diversity of the people that were there.
I am very interested in the trends and it is clear from name tag watching and talking to various people on the day that the interest in 3d Printing is broad. There were interested parties from colleges, law enforcement, engineering, signage, jewellery and dentistry. There were also interested parties in very specific niches such as high speed digitisation.
I will be doing follow-ups with some of the people I met after being made aware that there is some real cutting edge work going on out there right under my nose. Expect something soon on the high speed digitisation!
The Nissan Motor Sport racing team has a very impressive operation. It is incredibly well outfitted with the latest gear and an extensive staff. They sport engineering design, metal fabrication shop, body panel shop, sticker and paint systems, full engineering shop, engine assembly and of course 3d Print shop.
They explained how they are a little different to teams like the Holden Dealer team. Holden Dealer team are operating from a stable and highly developed racing platform that does not need as much R&D and race to race modification. Whereas the Nissan Motor Sport racing platform is still under intense development.
They have engineering teams head down working on mods and rolling at changes at a break neck speed. This is mainly where 3d Printing gets involved.
Why Is 3d Printing Race Ready?
Clearly the pressure is on with motor racing. There are short cycles, with lot’s to be done between race events. The sort of things that need to be carried out in between race cycles are:
- Gather Performance Telemetry And Driver Feedback During Race Event
- Analyse And Decide Drive Train, Suspension And Driver Systems Mods
- CAD Design New Or Improved Systems And Parts
- Produce Prototype
- Produce Race Ready Part
- Race Test
- Cycle Begins Again
(I am probably underestimating how the amount of test/modify cycles and other steps involved here.)
3d Printing impacts by cutting out steps and errors. It is possible to even go straight to completed part without making moulds and prototypes in some cases. It is expected that this will grow as time passes and 3d Print technology advances.
3d Parts Production In-house And Outsourced
Nissan Motor Sport are using a mix of producing 3d Printed parts and prototypes in their own facilities along with outsourcing production to assisted by Evok3d. So this gives them access to the most advanced and broadest spectrum of 3d Printing capabilities whilst keeping investment capital expenditure optimised.
Clearly 3d Printing can help in many areas of this process. The guys at Nissan Motorsport are able to make parts in various materials both in house and through outsourcing to their 3d Printing providers Evok3D. So if it’s a plastic part there is the option to make a prototype or even in some cases go straight to useable part in one iteration. Below you can see a carbon fibre gear-shift cover created from a mould produced on a 3d Printer. This cuts the production time significantly.
Less steps in the production process means less errors and a shorter manufacturing cycle. These savings are magnified by the intense nature of the racing cycle. Small savings become the difference between winning and losing.
It is even possible to make completed titanium parts race ready directly from the 3d Printer. It is clear that making race ready parts will become more and more achievable as the 3d Print cycle times come down.
This extremely short cycle time from concept to useable part is a real racing performance advantage. It means that the speed with which team at Nissan Motor Sport narrow the gap to their competitors is accelerated.
A driver air-flow gate. (Key aspects of this solution: The gate was fully mechanical allowing for the car to come in under its cap of electrical pluggable modules. The gate was manufactured with an internal valve that did not need assembly. Seriously, you can do that!)
A driver adjustable roll cage tension adjuster. (Key aspects: Allowed rapid prototype and test that would have had many times the lead time in the traditional way.)
A pump system. (Key Aspects: A reduction in size whilst increasing pump efficiency.)
I was amazed by the sophistication of the traditional engineering gear that these guys have on hand. High tech mills and lathes laid on. But you don’t have to look too far into the future to imagine that 3d Printing in metals and composites will soon eat further into the main stream rapid prototyping of race ready parts and prototypes.
This could become one of the biggest competitive advantages a race team could have. It also allows them to make things that are not possible to be made in the traditional ways. This liberates the creative mind and the engineering design team to come up with real breakthroughs.
Interestingly 3d Printing and related technologies are showing a real impact right now. It is not just about the future.
Where Is The Future For 3d Printing In Motor Sport?
It looks pretty bright. Clearly these guys are ready to put their money where their mouth is to shave 10th’s of a second off race times. That means that they will drive for anything that gets them that advantage. 3d Printing is pushing into the innovation space at high speed. It is going to push the realms of what can be done technically to a new place. It also delivers innovation cycle times that are not possible other ways.
Conclusions On The Nissan Motor Sport – 3d Systems – Evok3d 3d Printing ‘Updates And Insights’ Event
It was great to see 3d Systems / Evok3d and Nissan Motor Sport getting out there and promoting what is going on in this space. Communicating what is going on in 3d Printing, is clearly something that 3d Systems is putting a great deal of focus on. Their action in running these events internationally, along with webinars and a significant investment in a training and R&D facility in Rock Hill South Carolina is a testament to their direction.
It is also clear that Nissan Motor Sport have made a significant and growing investment in 3d Printing. They can see how critical it is to their future success and competitiveness.
With the margins between success and failure being measured in 10th’s of a second there is no doubt that one small advantage created by an innovation drawn from 3d Printing, could be the difference between winning and losing. The Nissan Motor Sport team are optimistic about their chances at the Bathurst 1000.
The diversity of participants at the event, says that many sectors are watching closely and actually jumping in to 3d technology. As predicted disciplines like dentistry are seeing it as a clear and compelling business case to move on 3d Printing right now.
Perhaps one of the biggest areas to watch for the future is how 3d Printing and related technology enable the possibility of pulling back a growing portion of advanced and specialist manufacture to places like Australia and the US in the short term. Australia and the US are countries that have had their manufacturing decimated by low labour cost manufacturing countries such as China, Korea and others. Let’s follow this trend!
All in all a great morning that was highly enlightening. Check out the 3d Systems website for more events and webinars. There is some great learning events coming up.
Nissan Motor Sport – 3d Printing Their Way To Bathurst 1000 Win?
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