Formula 1’s legendary team, McLaren Racing, prints tens of thousands of parts on Stratasys large Neo 800 stereolithographic 3D printers. McLaren produces 9,000 parts per year for the front and rear wing structures of the cars, as well as large parts for the side body and upper body. The racing team is making great progress in optimizing the vehicle’s aerodynamics during wind tunnel testing thanks to the high accuracy of the parts using five Neo800 systems. In addition to the quality aspect, production times have been drastically reduced and the team is now able to produce some large parts in just three days.

Formula 1 faces uncertain times, and the lack of any revenue during the C19 pandemic saw the FIA ​​decide to lower the teams’ budget limits from $ 175 million to $ 145 million in 2021 and then to $ 140 million in 2022 and $ 135 million in 2023 Using a fleet of proprietary 3D printers enables McLaren to manufacture all aerodynamic parts at its UK base in Woking, saving subcontracting costs and associated quality assurance.

The team can also print jigs and templates on 3D printers that would previously have been produced with metal CNC milling machines. The speed of the Neo800 stereolithography process not only saves a lot of time, but also lowers material costs by replacing pig iron with cheaper and more efficient light-curing resins.

One of the main applications where McLaren sees the greatest value with the Neo800 is wind tunnel testing. The team uses the models on a 60% scale to optimize the aerodynamic package and find more downforce – for better aerodynamic traction – and to balance the front and rear aerodynamic loads on the car.

The team prints the parts using Somos PerFORM Reflect resin, which was specially developed for the production of models for wind tunnel testing. It creates strong, stiff parts that take 30% less time to finish than other materials. The large size of the work areas of Stratasys Neo800 3D printers of 800 x 800 x 600 mm allows you to create large single parts or many smaller ones in one production process.

McLaren racing cars use 50-60 air pressure housings to allow air pressure readings on a variety of surfaces. The tiny pressure drains running through these components are very intricate and detailed, and are found on the car during testing and racing to allow engineers to continuously monitor and optimize aerodynamic performance.

Source: Stratasys press materials

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