How do you try to make a racecar steering wheel more functional, aesthetic and cost-effective? Formula Group T did just that by collaborating with Materialise for their Formula Student Competition entry.
Formula Group T co-created with Materialise once again for their latest racecar. Materialise has worked with previous Formula Group T teams on the Areion and Eve cars, and this time the students designed and engineered June, which shares the same name as their graduation month. Thomas Pattyn from the race team collaborated with Dries Vandecruys from Materialise’s engineering team to incorporate lightweight structures, texturing and functionality to the steering wheel they designed to be 3D printed. All of this was possible by using Materialise’s 3-matic software.
Materialise 3-matic to Integrate the Three Major Competition Criteria into One Steering Wheel
The 3 major criteria for the formula student competition are to have a functional design, make it aesthetically pleasing and design a smart business plan to manufacture the car. By choosing 3D Printing, and with the help of Materialise 3-matic, all of these criteria could be met.
With only 1 year to go from idea to functioning racecar, 3D Printing enabled them not only to meet the deadline, but to also make iterations to improve the design while still minimizing production costs. In addition to building in buttons, cables and circuit boards with the texturing module of Materialise 3-matic, the students were able to apply a honeycomb texture on the surface of the steering wheel. This was done for aesthetical purposes, that is to give the steering wheel a special look, as well as for functional reasons, specifically to provide extra grip for the driver.
When the students first designed the steering wheel for their racecar, it weighed in at 400 grams. After an FEA analysis, they found they could reduce the weight down to 250 grams. To add extra strength on some parts without compromising the weight, they reinforced the steering wheel by filling parts of the internal volume with a lightweight structure. However, they weren’t able to do this with the software programs they had on hand. Luckily, with the Lightweight Structures Module of our own Materialise 3-matic software along with our design and engineering services team were able to incorporate the chosen structure into the volume of the design.
Beating the Race against Time
The students found Materialise 3-matic to be the perfect tool for their project to give them an extra edge compared to the other Formula Student groups. Team Manager Bram op ‘t Roodt said, “With only 9 months to fully complete a racecar, it’s great to have tools like Materialise 3-matic to make our design in software easier and do things that are not possible in CAD. Such a short time frame makes it important to use the right tools so that we can stay ahead of the completion and make a racecar we are all truly proud of.”