Formula One (F1), the premier world championship for motor racing and its regulatory body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), have used additive manufacturing to assess the design, rules, and regulations of its 2021 cars.
With every new F1 season, the FIA issues new regulations for vehicles participating in the championship. The new rules are tested using prototype car models implemented. Last month, the 2021 vehicle underwent extensive wind tunnel testing using an accurate, 50 percent scale model produced with assistance from additive manufacturing.
Utilizing additive manufacturing to create the scale models delivered a range of benefits to the development team. Pat Symonds, F1’s Chief Technical Officer, stated that 50% is a good compromise in that we can still get a good level of detail on the model but we still have distance behind. Its true teams have tended to go more to 60% these days.”
Additive manufacturing in the wake of F1 testing
For the 2021 season, a significant target for the rules revolves around encouraging racers to overtake each other. Hence, the FIA has been reported to have completed an unmatched amount of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) R&D to help design its 2021 vehicles. Wind tunnel testing was performed to help confirm the data produced by the CFD research.
A significant component of evaluating the wake of the 2021 vehicle lies in the production of a detailed 50 percent scale-sized model permitted by 3D printing.
100 percent scale cars have been prohibited for use in wind tunnel testing in F1 due to the enormous cost of manufacturing the model. Most of the F1 teams have rather opted for 60 percent models for wind tunnel testing, however, F1 and the FIA have leveraged the benefits of additive manufacturing to produce a detailed model at 50 percent scale, without sacrificing accuracy. A smaller size means more room in the wind tunnel behind the car, allowing for a detailed inspection of the car’s wake.
F1 and 3D Printing
A number of F1 racing teams now incorporate additive manufacturing for prototyping and producing parts that enhance car performance. Recently, Jabil, an American worldwide manufacturing services company, announced a partnership with the Renault F1 Team to develop 3D printed car parts for its F1 car participating in the 2019 Formula One World Championship.
Longstanding 3D printing partnerships include Stratasys and McLaren, Willians and EOS, Sauber and Additive Industries, and Ferrari and Magneti Marelli.