This year, we are once again sponsoring the University of Akron’s SAE racing team. We work with their team to 3D print and manufacture various parts that are used in the car. We recently spoke with them to talk about this year’s plans and objectives.
Who is the team composed of?
Our team is composed of multiple tiers of members in a clever layout that allows for a system of checks and balances to ensure the quality of our design. In summary, this layout consists of two team captains who oversee both administrative and technical responsibilities. Beneath the team captains are our subsystem leaders, who oversee the design and production of different subsystems on the car, such as engine and suspension. Finally, we have general support, which is normally composed of newer members on the team. The general support members will help with all aspects of design and production of the car.
How many races do you plan to compete in this year?
Our team traditionally participates in multiple competitions around the world. Historically, this will include at least one competition in America, one in Canada, and one in Europe. This year, we plan on visiting Lincoln, Nebraska for our American competition, which will be followed by a competition in Germany. We also plan to end the season by going to Canada to participate in the Toronto Shootout.
What are your plans for this year’s car?
This year we plan to focus on improving the robustness of our design and looking into more advanced simulation/testing techniques to validate our designs before the ideas go into the production stage. This is an area where 3D printing can prove to be very useful with its rapid prototyping abilities. By improving our simulation/testing techniques we will be able to build a lighter car without sacrificing reliability.
How do you incorporate 3D printing in your design?
3D printing plays various roles in the design/production of our race car every year. 3D printed parts can serve roles that range from just testing fit and finish before actual production of the parts which involves lengthy machining processes, or they can even be finalized parts that will make their way on to the car.
What are the benefits you see by using 3D printing rather than traditional manufacturing methods?
One of the most useful attributes of 3D printing is that it allows us to produce complex geometries that would be next to impossible to machine from billet material. Some examples of these complex geometries include hollow parts, sharp corners, and small radii. By taking advantage of the benefits offered by 3D printing for production, we are able to build a lighter car without sacrificing our reliability.
Stay tuned, for we will write a follow up blog in May once their car is complete. We wish them the best of luck, and look forward to working with them this year. To learn more about their team, feel free to visit their website.