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12th March 2018, Minneapolis, MN/Rehovot

From weeks down to hours for Tecnun

Student motorsport team Tecnun is slashing the time taken to create complex end-use race parts while significantly reducing their weight by using Stratasys 3D printed sacrificial cores to innovate composite part production. 

Tecnun, the Formula student team from the University of Navarra in Spain, designs and manufactures its own Formula Student race cars that compete each year at the Formula Student International competition. By harnessing additive manufacturing technology it is now able to produce extremely complex 3D printed moulds for key race parts in a matter of a few hours, compared to three weeks when using traditionally-manufactured aluminum moulds.

Produced using a 3D printed FDM sacrificial core, the final carbon fibre intake manifold is 60% lighter than those produced via conventional methods. © Stratasys

Importantly, using the time saved during production, the team is able to make further iterations to its designs and develop final carbon fibre parts that are 60% lighter than conventional production methods, thereby increasing the cars’ performances on the track.

One specific area in which Stratasys technology can be successfully deployed is the design of the intake manifold – a component vital to ensuring enough air reaches the engine cylinders in order to increase speed.

“Manufacturing an intake manifold is extremely complex as it comprises several important components critical to the air distribution along the four intake manifolds,” says Tecnun technical director Javier Aperribay. “We aim to create intake manifolds in carbon fibre composites, but we’re well aware that manufacturing such a part requires a mould to lay-up the composite materials and create the final part.

“CNC machining is used to produce the mould in aluminum, however this is typically an inflexible and costly process and on top of that, any subsequent design revisions applied to the mould delay projects and add extra costs.

3D printed mould for intake manifold produced in just five hours with Stratasys’ Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, compared to three weeks using conventional aluminum moulds. © Stratasys

Invariably hamstrung by tight production schedules and budgetary constraints, Tecnun has in the past tested various other additive manufacturing technologies as faster and cheaper alternatives to produce the lay-up tool. However, it found that the plastics were not strong enough and broke during the lay-up process.

Working with Pixel Sistemas using a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, Tecnun is now successfully producing mould tools for parts like the intake manifold. This is 3D printed in ST-130 sacrificial tooling material, before the carbon fibre composite material is wrapped around the mould. Once cured, the internal sacrificial core is washed away, leaving the final composite part.


“Using Stratasys FDM sacrificial tooling allows us to make the intake manifold from carbon fiber instead of heavier, less efficient materials,” says Aperribay. “The superior soluble characteristic of the ST-130 material enables a more complex shape of the intake manifold compared to aluminium moulds, removing the need to assemble all the individual components. We can now 3D print moulds for the intake manifold in just five hours, as opposed to the three weeks lead time associated with conventional aluminum moulds.

Tecnun, the Formula student team from the University of Navarra in Spain, designs and manufactures its own Formula Student race cars. © Stratasys

“We find that the material performs in high temperatures of up to 121°C and, at certain temperatures, pressures of up to 620 kPa throughout curing. Unlike the previous additive polymer materials, we tested, the mould doesn’t break, and the quality of the resulting carbon fibre composite intake is fantastic.

“Using this technology has facilitated the optimal combustion reaction and has seen us increase performances on the track. Moving forward, there is very little doubt that FDM sacrificial tooling will play a crucial role in overcoming our ongoing engineering challenges.”

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