3D printing cultures innovation. We've seen it across all manner of industries, particularly in education, but also in engineering, where it has been used to prototype a Le Mans racing car, advance the design of electric motorbikes, and help service jet engines.
The familiar theme with additive manufacturing is that when a designer, engineer, or studying version of these experts sees a 3D printer in action, they dream up solutions to manufacturing challenges in their head.
Whether it's a snap-fit joint, protective battery housing or heat shield, or the ability to improve on a legacy part, 3D printing can solve a wide variety of engineering and design challenges - and it has the uncanny ability to bring out the flower of creative thinking in everyone it touches.
AGH Racing recently experienced this themselves when they teamed up with 3DGence to bring 3D printing to their workshop.
AGH Racing, a student research group of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, have been working on their 2019/2020 season Formula Student racing cars. Their aim is to create a faster, lighter, and more reliable racing car than ever before. The challenges they face are doing so on budget, on time, and without sacrificing quality.
Introducing 3D printing
Another of the challenges they faced is being able to conceptualise and prototype ideas quickly. Outsourcing takes too long. This brought the team of students around to the idea of investing in their own 3D printer.
The AGH team did their research on the best 3D printers for their use case. They wanted a machine engineered specifically for industrial use, to ensure it would meet their reliability and uptime requirements. 3DGence as a brand stood out right away, thanks to their impeccable reputation for manufacturing 3D printers that are built to last and last. 3DGence also helped AGH understand how 3D printing could benefit them.
"This season, AGH Racing team is working on the development of their electric race car and the improvement of their combustion engine car, that is why we are more than pleased to be able to contribute to the development of students and support them, not only in terms of technology", says Joanna Szarblewska, Marketing Specialist at 3DGence.
The team chose the 3DGence F340 for their workshop, which has a handy touchscreen interface, a build volume of 260 x 300 x 340 mm and prints at a layer height of 150 - 250 microns (0.15 - 0.25 mm).
The F340 can print ABS and PEEK, and an interesting material called PA-CF, which is a unique polyamide reinforced with carbon fibre. It exhibits the mechanical properties of PA6, an engineering nylon that is super-tough with extremely high tensile strength.
Because the F340 is a fused filament fabrication 3D printer, the material costs are lower compared to a stereolithography 3D printer. Also, at the scale AGH Racing needed, there wasn’t an alternative technology to FFF. The 3DGence F340 is a best-in-breed machine for engineering environments.
The team found use for 3D printing right away, printing a series of parts that were conceptualised in CAD. In doing so, the team are able to prototype and test their own innovations quickly. This saves them a significant amount of time and enables them to accelerate their development cycle.
The ability to print in a wide range of materials - including ABS and PEEK, and a reinforced material called PA-CF - also means they can expand their use of 3D printing to not only include the fabrication of cosmetic parts, but functional parts too.
"Combining theoretical science with practical experience is a dream of every student, and for the AGH Racing team – everyday life in the workshop. The ability to interact with 3D printing technology and use it in our daily work will help us in the process of prototyping and creating final parts for our cars, " says Anton Koleśnik, Technical Leader of Electric Vehicle project AGH Racing.
They are using 3D printing right now to fabricate parts for their cars, which include a Formula Student racer with a combustion engine, and a Formula Student racer called Stanislaw which is fully electric. The petrol-powered model accelerates from 0-100 km/h in less than 4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 130 km/h. The electric model isn't far behind, getting from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.
"With this project, AGH Racing is contributing to the development of electric means of transport. Stanisław is a part of the current trends of ecological vehicles and increased awareness of environmental protection, " says Konrad Pajdzik, Marketing Team Leader AGH Racing.
The cars have to be as light as possible - and as aerodynamic as possible - to corner flat and handle like a go kart. 3D printing enables the team to fabricate lightweight parts in a short space of time. When designed properly, they can fit in place of parts manufactured elsewhere. The team just needs a signature part from which to design the new part from.
3D Printer: 3DGence F340.
Materials: ABS, PEEK.