However, after the conditions at the GMR Grand Prix, INDYCAR quickly realized more work needed to be done. With two doubleheader race weekends fast approaching, Stratasys Performance Partners, Team Penske, Arrow McLaren SP, Andretti Autosport and INDYCAR collaborated on a new “scoop” to provide even more cool air into the cockpit.
But designing the fix was only a partial solution – the bigger challenge was getting scoops made for all 24 cars and installed in time for the Iowa 250s race in less than a week.
In a situation like this, there’s only one viable option, and once again it was 3D printing. INDYCAR contacted 3D-printing solutions provider Stratasys for help making the new scoops, and within a matter of hours, the company had a batch of 10 FDM® 3D printers online, building the new scoops with ASA thermoplastic material.
“We looked at the design file and saw that it wouldn’t take much material or time, so we could easily handle the request,” said Allen Kreemer, Stratasys senior strategic applications engineer.
Each scoop took about nine hours to print, and in roughly 48 hours, Kreemer had enough scoops for all the cars, plus a few spares. He didn’t have to sacrifice too much weekend time at the lab to get the job done, either. The latest GrabCAD Print software from Stratasys made it easy to not only quickly set up the print tasks but also monitor them from home on a mobile app to make sure the deadline would be hit.
“Without additive manufacturing, it would have taken us a minimum of two full weeks to produce 24 of these ducts,” said Tino Belli, director of aerodynamic development at INDYCAR. “Stratasys got the CAD Sunday morning, and by Wednesday, 24 cars were equipped with the ducts and on the way to the Iowa race. It was miraculous.”
The Iowa 250s doubleheader race was a success, and Team Penske won both races to sweep the weekend. The 3D-printed scoops performed as designed and increased the airflow to the driver cockpit.
You could also say it was a win for 3D printing, as well. Quick-turning production parts at a reasonable cost is right in 3D printing’s wheelhouse. So is the ability to quickly iterate and get the best designs to the racetrack as fast as possible.
When the traditional supply chains can’t do it or break down, additive manufacturing has shown that it has the winning formula to fill the gap.