Advanced 3D Printed Parts for Motorsports Parts

Rev up your innovation engines! The world of motorsports parts is shifting gears fast, thanks to the integration of 3D print tech. As racers and engineers seek every competitive edge, the development of 3D printed parts is not just an upgrade—it’s a revolution. These components offer unprecedented precision and versatility, transforming vehicle performance on the track. Imagine lighter, stronger parts that push the boundaries of speed and efficiency. Now, with advanced 3D printing, this is not just possible, it’s happening. Are you ready to explore how these cutting-edge technologies are redefining the motorsports industry? Dive into the future of racing right here.

One of these experts is Modo Rapid, an engineering and manufacturing subcontract facility based in Shenzhen, China. With over a decade of experience in engineering design and additive manufacturing, Modo Rapid has been able to push 3D printing beyond the traditional parameters of rapid prototyping. About 60% of Modo Rapid’s current projects are for F1 teams and racing companies — these clients are constantly looking for incremental improvements in lightweight, power, reliability, and aerodynamic optimization. Modo Rapid’s team has excelled in 3D printing complex tooling for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) components that are setting standards and new expectations that were previously out of reach.

Leveraging a fleet of state-of-the-art stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers, Modo Rapid manufactures carbon fiber tooling and silicone tooling as well as 3D printed end-use components. Working with industry leaders, Modo Rapid has scaled up to true production volume, meeting the rigorous demands of the high-performance racing industry.

Carbon fiber racing components supplier

Innovative Carbon Fiber Manufacturing: 3D Mold Printing

3D printing technology offers significant advantages in the production of complex molds for carbon fiber parts. Here are the steps and processes involved in using 3D printing to create these molds:

1. Design Phase

CAD Modeling

  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create a detailed 3D model of the mold. Ensure the design takes into account the shape and functional requirements of the final carbon fiber part.
  • Conduct multiple simulations and tests to ensure the accuracy and feasibility of the mold design.

2. Material Selection

Choosing the Right 3D Printing Material

  • Use high-temperature resistant materials, such as high-temp resin or PEEK, which can withstand the curing process.
  • Select materials that are suitable for printing complex geometries to ensure the mold’s precision and strength.

3. 3D Printing the Mold

Selecting 3D Printing Technology

  • Stereolithography (SLA): Suitable for molds requiring high precision and smooth surfaces.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): Suitable for molds needing high strength and high-temperature resistance.

Printing Process

  • Set the printing parameters to ensure high resolution and accuracy.
  • Monitor the print quality throughout the process to ensure there are no defects.

4. Post-Processing

Post-Processing Steps

  • Clean and sand the 3D printed mold to remove support structures and surface imperfections.
  • Perform necessary surface treatments, such as sandblasting or polishing, to improve the smoothness of the mold surface.

5. Mold Preparation

Mold Preparation

  • Apply a release agent to facilitate the demolding of the carbon fiber part.
  • If needed, apply a high-temperature coating to the mold surface to further enhance its durability.

6. Creating the Carbon Fiber Part

Carbon Fiber Lay-Up

  • Lay the carbon fiber prepreg (pre-impregnated with resin) onto the mold according to the design.
  • Ensure each layer of carbon fiber is laid flat, without bubbles or wrinkles.

Curing Process

  • Place the laid-up mold into an autoclave or oven for curing at high temperature and pressure.
  • Cure the resin under specified conditions to harden it, forming a strong carbon fiber part.

7. Demolding and Final Processing

Demolding

  • After curing, carefully remove the carbon fiber part from the mold.
  • Use tools to gently separate the mold and part to avoid damage.

Final Processing

  • Perform final sanding and polishing on the formed carbon fiber part.
  • Conduct quality inspections to ensure the part meets design specifications and performance standards.

Premium carbon fiber racing components

Comparing 3D Printed vs. Traditional Tooling for Race Car Part Molds

3D Printed Tooling:

When it comes to creating molds for race car parts, 3D printed tooling offers a revolutionary approach. With lead times as short as one week, manufacturers like Modo Rapid can swiftly iterate designs and respond to evolving requirements. One significant advantage lies in the design freedom afforded by 3D printing technology. Complex geometries and intricate details can be easily achieved, enhancing the performance and aerodynamics of the final carbon fiber parts. Moreover, the ability to optimize print design and orientation ensures precise dimensional accuracy, critical for high-performance racing components. Despite size limitations, the cost-effectiveness of 3D printed tooling makes it ideal for lower volume production runs, providing a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced motorsport industry.

Traditionally Made Tooling:

In contrast, traditionally manufactured tooling for race car part molds has long been the industry standard, offering durability and reliability over thousands of pulls. However, lead times averaging three to four weeks pose significant challenges in meeting tight production schedules. While traditionally made tooling excels in size and endurance, it falls short in design flexibility and responsiveness to design changes. The process is constrained by design limitations and requires meticulous planning to address thermal growth and dimensional accuracy. Despite these drawbacks, traditionally made tooling remains a cornerstone of the motorsport industry, particularly for high-volume production runs where durability and consistency are paramount.

Motorsport carbon fiber parts

Optimizing 3D Printed Mold Performance for Carbon Fiber Parts

In the process of 3D printing molds for carbon fiber parts, several key considerations must be taken into account to ensure optimal performance and dimensional accuracy. Firstly, during the autoclave curing process, where temperatures may exceed the glass transition temperature of the material, selecting a suitable resin is crucial. Rigid 10K Resin has been identified as a reliable choice due to its durability and resistance to degradation under high temperatures, making it ideal for repeated use without compromising dimensional accuracy.

Additionally, surface preparation plays a vital role in optimizing the interaction between the mold and carbon fiber sheets. The Modo Rapid team carefully dresses the surface of Rigid 10K Resin mold pieces to remove any residual glass particles, enhancing the surface finish and ensuring smooth, seamless molding.

Lightweight racing car parts

Moreover, to account for material creep during the autoclave process, precise compensation factors are dialed in to maintain tight tolerances in the resulting CFRP parts. This meticulous calibration ensures that each part meets the required specifications without deviation.

For the internal form of complex CFRP components, such as ducts and tubes, soluble mandrels are traditionally used. However, for smaller components that fit within the printer’s build volume, extractable mandrels offer a viable alternative. Durable Resin has proven effective for this purpose, providing excellent results without the complexity associated with traditional soluble mandrels produced by FDM. In cases where larger extractable mandrels are required, Modo Rapid utilizes their in-house deep vat SLA process to meet the demands of the project.

Modo Rapid is an IATF16949 certified manufacturing facility, specializing in various processes for race car and automotive prototype production. To learn more about 3D printing applications in the automotive industry, please visit our resource page or discuss your specific application with our team.

We look forward to collaborating with you to explore innovative solutions and drive success for your projects!