Ducting and pipework

The performance of an F1 car is dominated by the efficiency of the aerodynamics.  A large amount of time and resource is spent by F1 teams on optimising the aerodynamic design.  Modern F1 cars are powered by fully hybrid systems that have multiple cooling requirements.  Each F1 car has many fluid coolers, all designed to operate in the temperature range required for the particular system. Obviously, these have to be fed by an internal airflow.  Unfortunately, this is detrimental to the aerodynamic performance of the car and hence is minimised as far as possible.

Because of the extreme packaging and high under-body temperatures, there are also many other components that require an airflow to cool them.  These include the clutch, hydraulic system assemblies, engine throttle operation and control sensors for the gearbox.  This airflow is again detrimental to the performance of the car. It is therefore very important to provide only the amount of air that is absolutely necessary to cool each component and ensure that it is directed correctly.

Carbon fibre composite pipework can be used to provide this ‘auxiliary cooling’ however, for the reasons explained above, it is time consuming and difficult to do this in all cases.  Plus, even using the latest Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques, it is not possible to accurately predict all the flow requirements.  This means that an experimental approach also has to be taken and many cooling components will require change after initial track testing.

3D printed components are therefore extensively used for this application.  They can be quickly produced to suit virtually any geometry and new versions can be created to provide better optimised solutions following testing.  The main limitations are the maximum operating temperature of current materials and of course the weight.

In one of our next insights we’ll will describe an innovative way to resolve the limitations of the 3D printed parts with the use of 3D printed washouts tooling for composites manufacturing.

If you have a requirement for any composite pipework for motorsport applications be it manufacture, design or both please feel free to contact us.