Racing to manufacture – FDM functional parts

Supplier: Out of business - Rapid Pro
15 August, 2012

As an individual trying to customise a number of components for his Ford Capri race car, Ivan Viduka was looking at ways to reduce costs associated with low volume tooling and machining — such as the manufacture of a new high-performance air intake system.

When you are striving to win the Australian Historic Racing Series, you need every ounce of horsepower you can muster. Viduka has customised many aspects of his custom 1970 Ford Mk1 Capri and continues to do so using FDM technology.

The rapid prototyping process: Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

An initial design concept for the intake plenum was developed with CAD software and sent to RedEye where a rapid prototype was created using Polycarbonate (PC). Due to its suitable heat resistance properties PC possess lower yield strength than aluminium, which would normally be used for this application.

A suitable thickness was applied to the design with the aid of CAE analysis to insure the plenum component was able to resist maximum engine vacuum depression during snap throttle events and backfire.

Since all of the intake plenum features and holes were digitally manufactured using PC, no additional machining was required. All mounting holes were heli-coiled for additional strength so correctly sized fasteners could be used and sealing of the plenum was maintained. The initial design was used for development testing and included idle speed control, PCV and vacuum bosses ready to go without additional machining required.

As part of the typical testing phase, improvements to the design were identified. In this case, the new design included a second throttle body unit that increased horsepower while bosses and ribs added increased structure to the lower mounting surface.

After testing of their second design, the model was updated with more beneficial changes and a new prototype was created using sparsely filled ABS to produce casting patterns.

In the end, a split plenum design was favoured to avoid the need for an additional core model. The two halves of the plenum were machined and welded together.

The engine installation into the Ford Capri is now complete thanks to the availability of a diverse array of thermoplastics available at RedEye On Demand. The processes involved were not only extremely cost effective but the ability to fully test a component prior to manufacture was invaluable.

The result

With confidence in good engineering and the team at RedEye On Demand, Viduka was able to develop in excess of 550 bhp – ultimately giving him enough power to drive circles around the competition.

With no major financial backing, Viduka's goal was to reduce costs associated with low volume tooling and machining. Prior to using RedEye On Demand's digital manufacturing service, problems would arise in the process between design finalisation and pre-production tooling.

With the additive manufacturing technology offered through RedEye's digital manufacturing services, these major components were efficiently created so they could be tested and optimised before committing to patterns and machining. Each iteration of design change cost just hundreds as opposed to thousands of dollars associated with traditional manufacturing.

Even better, with RedEye producing functional prototype and casting patterns the lead time was reduced from months to just days.

Of all the digital manufacturing service providers in the world – why RedEye?

  • Preferred technology
  • RedEye offers Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology. This additive fabrication process gives engineers the ability to choose thermoplastics which offer structural properties that are optimal for creating durable, long lasting parts suitable for powertrain testing.
  • Proven track record
  • RedEye also has access to more than 100 machines and builds thousands of parts each week while handing the largest and most complex projects with ease.
  • Cost and time savings