Elan Motorsports needed help developing a fuel manifold. A complex part, and the harsh tank environment were challenges facing EMT. A new manifold, created using SLS Material, was directly manufactured and used in several races, including the Indianapolis 500.

Part Complexity, Tank Environment Challenging

Elan Motorsports Technologies (EMT), part of the Panoz group of companies, manufactures racecars and uses carbon composite technologies in various applications. Facing a tight deadline, in April 2007, EMT and Panoz Group teamed with 3D Systems On Demand Manufacturing services to create a fuel vent manifold, a two-part assembly to be used in a methanol fuel tank in several of their race car bodies.

Elan_Motorsports_manifold-2-parts
Exhibiting great strength and thermal resistance, the 3D printed, SLA, two-part fuel vent manifold

This proved to be no small feat with various challenges to overcome, such as part complexity and the tank environment itself. The parts were complex and since this was a first-time test, the quantity being produced was too low to justify the cost and time for traditional production tooling.

 

 

Strong Parts Keep Form Under High Temperatures

The next challenge was the stressful tank environment in which the parts would have to perform. The parts would be completely submerged in the methanol fuel tank and would have to resist and not absorb the methanol fuel. If the parts absorbed the fuel, they would swell up within the tank, leading to serious problems with ventilation. Form retention and strength were other challenges for the EMT and 3D Systems teams to overcome. Stresses such as high temperature and extreme vibration meant the fuel vent manifold would have to be strong enough to keep its original form under the high temperatures and would have to stay attached to the tank where its original design dictated and not vibrate loose. This required a unique approach to standard prototyping methods and 3D Systems was there to accept this direct manufacturing challenge.

Better Performance During Testing

3D Systems' On Demand Modeling, an industry-leading service bureau providing instant online quotes and innovative manufacturing solutions, realized the directly manufactured parts would need superior strength to withstand the harsh thermal conditions and quickly chose the 3D Systems’ Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process and the new, tough, impact-resistant DuraForm EX Plastic.

Elan_Motorsports_manifold-plus-parts
3D printed manifold in 3D Systems SLS Duraform EX Plastic

"We couldn’t have done it with anything else but DuraForm EX Plastic,” said Jason Dickman. “We have so many successful companies who are benefiting from this

ODM collaborated with one of its partners using the DuraForm EX Plastic and a newly engineered multi-layering technique to create an enhanced functional assembly with longevity in mind. The fuel vent manifold tested better by combining a tempering plasma spray and an infiltrate coating.

The total thickness applied was measured to be 25 to 38 microns (1 to 1.5 mils). The tempering process only took 20 minutes and dried within minutes of shipping.

DuraForm EX Goes to the Races

elan-racecar-photo-indy-racing
Winning racing teams use 3D printing to their advantage

Continually producing the best in motor racing, EMT found the 3D Systems direct manufacturing solution for its fuel vent manifold superior in design and outstanding in functionality. EMT and the Panoz Group successfully used the new DuraForm EX parts in multiple races, including the Indianapolis 500, Michigan 300, Las Vegas Race and the Florida INDY car race.