Racing Past the Competition
"In motor racing, you can't put a price on how much that is worth. Aerodynamics is easily the most cost effective way to extract performance, and 3D Systems' technologies have become an essential part of our aero development."
Chassis Technical Director
ING Renault F1 Team
Renault F1 Team's Advanced Digital Manufacturing (ADM) Center, located in Enstone, England, concentrates on Formula 1 design and low-run production parts for the Renault F1 Team car. Renault has been competing in motorsports since July 1977
The wind tunnel model of the team car was built in carbon fiber, epoxy board and metal, a demanding workload for the ING Renault F1 Team employees and machines that are also responsible for delivering the parts for the real race car. The required turnaround time for these parts is always short and deadlines are difficult to meet.
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The Renault F1 Team and 3D Systems became partners in 1998. Renault began using the SLA® System to develop prototypes of components with a size-fit test function, gradually expanding the use of solid imaging technology from rapid prototyping to manufacturing of wind tunnel models and leading to the direct manufacturing of production parts for testing and racing. In 2001, the first SLA® System parts were fitted into a race car. The ADM Center, opened at the Renault F1 Team Technical Center in 2002, now has five SLA® Systems, two SLS® Systems that produce car parts, as well as two more production 3D Printers.
The Aerodynamics Department that manufactures the wind tunnel model has grown to 70 employees from 19; and the ADM Centre has expanded to five from one. As F1 became more reliant on aerodynamic improvements for its performance gains, demand for the number of iterations to be tested rose dramatically. The ability for these systems to manufacture multiple iterations of the same part simultaneously has proved invaluable. 3D Systems' technologies have become a new and effective manufacturing process for Renault to reduce both cycle time and cost. With improved computer-aided design (CAD), the Department is able to design more quality complex geometry efficiently incorporating features that would have previously been impossible. The Digital Age now allows Renault to manufacture parts directly from its CAD designs, eliminating the interpretation of drawings, leading to more accurate components and testing data. Last year, the Team was able to test 14,000 aerodynamic solutions.
"In Formula 1, aerodynamics is an empirical science," said Dino Toso, head of aerodynamics. "We design new ideas, we compare them, we choose directions to follow. The more ideas we can compare and evaluate, the more successful we will be on the race track."
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