Following their reputation as engineers of the future, the members of the Punch Powertrain Solar Team wanted to incorporate 3D printed components in their solar car for The World Solar Challenge 2013. Although a lot of parts in this particular project could benefit from 3D Printing, they decided to focus on one single application that could really make a difference.

With the question “how can we demonstrate the added value of 3D Printing?” in mind, they started brainstorming. “The outcome was that the ultimate battery stacking system would be very hard to develop within the limits of traditional production methods,” explains Jens Jespers, Mechanical Systems Engineer for the Solar Team. “By choosing 3D Printing for these components, a world of new possibilities opened. It was no longer the question how to build something that can hold 432 Lithium-ion cells, but how we can integrate more functionality into these parts.”

In a co-creation session with our design engineers, the concept was defined. They decided to make a modular open frame design to ensure an optimal air flow for cooling. In the next stage, they introduced a honeycomb structure to reduce the weight while keeping a strong structure. It took only three iterations to get from initial design to final concept and during the entire process, the Solar Team could count on the design & engineering services at Materialise.

The stacking system was eventually laser sintered in polyamide, which resulted in a lightweight component with accurate dimensions. And guess who won the World Solar Challenge 2013 Innovation Award?


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