A Racing Design from Elbflorace e.V. – Hightech Parts with the German RepRap X400

A Racing Design from Elbflorace e.V. – How the German RepRap X400 3D Printer Manufactures High-Tech Parts for the Formula Student Competition

Elbflorace is the registered club representing the TU Dresden University in the Formula Student competition. The Formula Student is an international design competition in which the teams of individual universities develop and construct a new racing car each year and race against each other at different events over the particular year.
This year also, the Elbflorace racing car is electrically driven and many parts were 3D printed with the German RepRap X400. A great deal of experimentation was carried out in order to gain an edge in the competition. “Most of our activities therefore involve screwing parts and making things. 3D printing is obviously very useful to us since we can adapt components very flexibly to different requirements and manufacture parts that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” says Armin Bakkal, the person responsible for sensors.

A Racing Design from Elbflorace e.V. – Hightech Parts with the German RepRap X400

“We made a definite decision in favor of 3D printing to enable us to respond with unlimited creative freedom and flexibility.

Armin Bakkal compares the work to prototype construction: “We normally implement rapid prototyping when constructing our racing car. 3D printing is ideal for this because it is fast, cheap and flexible. The print quality and the achievable tolerances fully meet the requirements of 3D printed parts for a Formula Student racing car.” For example, this includes brackets for sensors, housings for PCBs, dials on the dashboard and much more..

The changeover to 3D printing brought many benefits. The sensor brackets previously required a mechanical solution every time. This proved to be very expensive, complicated and inflexible. It was also a major limiting factor in the possible number of sensors and their use since every drill hole in a supporting component weakens its strength. The high-tech parts from the 3D printer, on the other hand, can be mounted very simply and at virtually any position, as well as being really fast to manufacture. Mr Bakkal is delighted: “Without the 3D printer, the measurement of suspension travel in the way we have implemented it using rotation potentiometers would probably not be possible at all. Just imagine what it would have cost to cut a part like this from a block of aluminum!”

The housings for the sensor boards are another interesting example. The Elbflorace team moved here from anodized metal housings to carbon fiber laminated boxes right through to the clever shrinking in a lot of shrinkable tubing. The current 3D printed housings on the other hand not only required less effort to manufacture. According to Mr Bakkal, they are also the “most functional, durable and easiest to maintain housings of all.”