The most common materials used in 3D printing are plastics, which can range from high-performance engineering grade like PEEK, or basic like PLA. Resin is another common material and it is used with SLA printers. Composites are another category they are created by combining two materials to get the best properties of each. The last big group of materials is metals which can only printed using industrial machines. The image below showing an assortment of parts manufactured with DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) process.
The most commonly used material in F1 is carbon filled PA. There are several companies producing this under a variety of trade names. Most F1 teams have their own manufacturing facilities utilising this material to minimise production times. Some teams even have 3D printing machines that they take to the race circuit to allow parts to be updated and fitted directly to the cars.
There are instances where more specialised materials are required. The cockpit of an F1 car not only houses the driver, but many other components, including the driver drink system and mandatory fire extinguisher. Because of the demanding physical nature of driving an F1 car, particularly in hot climates, the driver can lose several kilograms of fluid.
Therefore a drinking system is integrated to allow them to drink while driving (only water or an isotonic drink, of course!). This involves a suitable fluid reservoir, pump and tubing to feed the drink to their helmet. The space within the cockpit is very restricted, so the reservoir is often required to conform to the cockpit internal contours. 3D printing again allows a geometry to be created that can optimise the space available. In this case, however, a food safe material is required and specialist manufacturers are used.
We help clients embrace and exploit new technologies, processes and materials. If you require assistance in identifying the most appropriate material, technology or process in support of your next project then get in touch for a confidential discussion. Our Carbon SLS service (Datasheet here) provides a multitude of rapid prototype and end use component solutions in and out of the racecar.