The Areion by Formula Group T: The World’s First 3D Printed Race Car

How fast can 3D Printing (and stereolithography in particular) go? The answer, according to the 2012 Formula Group T team, is - more than 140 km/h!

Competing in the prestigious Formula Student 2012 challenge, a 16-man strong team of next-generation engineers from Group T have unveiled the world’s first race car created in great part through 3D Printing: the Areion. Named after the divinely-bred, extremely swift, immortal horse of Greek mythology, the Areion is a powerhouse of innovation and green technology. On July 31st, it lived up to its name on the Hockenheim race circuit by going from zero to 100km/h in just 4 seconds and achieving a top speed of 141km/h on the track. Cutting-edge technologies incorporated into their eco-friendly race car included an electric drive train, bio-composite materials, and of course, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) on a grand scale with Materialise.   

Big Ideas Brought to Life with Mammoth Technology

Using Materialise’s appropriately named Mammoth stereolithography machines it is possible to manufacture parts of up to 2100x680x800mm. With a build envelope that massive, the Formula Group T team recognized the possibility to not only print the entire body of the car, but to also integrate some unique features directly into the design. Therefore, working in close collaboration with engineers at Materialise, this is exactly what they achieved: going from initial shell design to a fully finished 3D Printed car body in just three weeks.

The Greatest Shell in Racing since Mario Kart

Starting from Formula Group T’s design for the outer shell, engineers at Materialise quickly got to work. Within a week, Materialise engineers had applied their experience with 3-matic from other projects to the creation of an intelligent 3D Printed car body with integrated clips and connection points. This allows for the easy assembly of the shell and therefore, faster access to the inner workings of the car when maintenance is needed.

Like a Shark through Water

Printed directly onto the nose of the race car is a shark skin texture, similar to that found on high-tech competition swimsuits. As with the swimsuits, the aim of the teeth-like ridges is to improve performance on race day. Whether or not the texture helped the Areion cut through the air is still to be determined, but one thing is for sure – the shark skin made the nose of the car look great!

The Coolest Side Pods on the Track

Both the right and left side pods were designed and printed with complex cooling channels. Printed into the left side pod are a nozzle behind the radiator and a diffuser, which optimize cooling by creating the ideal flow of air through the radiator. A fan is installed behind the radiator in order to do this even at low speeds and while the car is stationary. In the right side pod, complex channels were developed and printed to create a cyclone effect that removes water and dirt from the air before it enters the engine compartment.

The Results are in

With two races completed, the Formula Group T team is already the proud winner of two awards and an impressive ranking for a first-time team in the competition. While in the UK at the Silverstone racing circuit, the team was honored with the Best Teamwork Award by Airbus and Koen Huybrechts, who was responsible for the drivetrain, won the Craig Dawson most valuable team member award. While in Germany on the Hockenheim racing circuit, the team finished in a well-deserved 11th position and found themselves among other top teams in this international competition.

For more information about Formula Group T and the chance to follow their progress, visit www.formulagroupt.be. To find out about how 3D Printing makes the difference in a wide range of industries visit manufacturing.materialise.com