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Swansea Formula Team – AM offers perfect solution

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The Brief:
Swansea Metropolitan University has consistently ranked amongst the top British universities in the Formula Student competition.  The competition involves design and manufacture of a single seater race car during the academic year which is then used to compete against other teams from engineering universities.

For the 2012 FS competition a new intake plenum had to be designed, manufactured and tested to improve the driveability and performance of the vehicle.  To allow sufficient time for this part to be tested a manufacturing method was sought that would allow rapid creation of parts designed in CAD.

Besides the time constraints, also the functionality of the final part, strength and weight of the material played an important role in the final decision.

The Solution:
By using the plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) services of 3T RPD Ltd, all the requirements were met, and the part was manufactured in just five days.  AM has the ability to produce complex geometries and internal structures, freeing the designers up from previous design constraints of other, more traditional, manufacturing methods.  That meant the team didn’t need to worry about compromises in the design that could affect the performance of the part.

The material properties of the Nylon material used to build the part allowed the team to incorporate structural features into the design that made significant weight savings when compared to the processes used in previous years.  Furthermore, the final part required no post treatment and could be used on the engine straight away, meaning there was more time for testing and set-up optimisation.

The Result:
Tests have shown that the intake plenum is performing as predicted and the material is more than capable of withstanding the harsh environments of vibration, heat and pressure that it is subjected to.  The high dimensional accuracy and surface finish of the AM part made this manufacturing technique well suited for the needs of this project.

Mikelis Mezaks, a member of the FS team, says “The team is extremely happy with the performance and functionality of the final part and also the service provided by 3T.  As this was a one-off component, time and materials could be saved using plastic AM, allowing the FS team to focus on other areas of the project.”

Related Links:
Swansea Metropolitan University

SMU Racing