If you follow motorsport you may have seen radical Nissan’s DeltaWing race car competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other sportscar races around the world. What you might not know is that due to its short development time deadlines some of its components were developed using 3D printers.
What initially started as an IndyCar project the DeltaWing has been developed into an endurance race car that can compete on the world sports car circuit. The car was envisioned from the start to be far more efficient than any other racer.
“We wanted to make a car that is twice as efficient in every way, it should use half the fuel, cost half as much, use half the engine power and weigh half as much yet still go as fast or even faster than a current Indycar” explained Ben Bowlby, the car’s English designer.
To generate the maximum aerodynamic advantage and downforce generation through the corners the car was designed with an extremely narrow front cross section and a sculpted underside. To maximize acceleration out of low speed corners with only half the available power the DeltaWing has to only weight half as much as competing cars. To make maters worse for the team, the car had to be finished in 7 months from the initial design so that it could go through enough track testing before its first race.
In order to meet their time and weight deadlines the designers partnered with CRP Technology and their Windform XT 3D printer processes and materials. The Laser Sintered Windform XT 2.0 materials were not just limited to prototype parts for development testing, parts 3D printed in this material were also suitable for use during races themselves.
Windform XT parts that were 3D printed and raced on the DeltaWing included bespoke electronics enclosures, electrical breakout boxes, transmission seal covers with integrated pressurized oil feed passages and the tow hook plinth. Various parts were printed for use in prototyping, tooling & testing, such as brake inlets and ducting, air inlet ducting and filter enclosure and an underbody extension flange ( 5 foot long bonded assembly). The carbon fibre reinforced Windform XT 2.0 was also used to construct the gearbox side covers due to the material’s ability to withstand the temperatures and pressures required for this component.
CPR’s Windform XT 2.0 was the material used for the manufacturing of parts as it’s the only material that has the required mechanical & thermal characteristics. 3D printing and the Windform materials used for the DeltaWing were critical to shortening the timescales of the car’s construction.
Here’s a video of English auto journalist Chris Harris driving the car just days after it finished 5th at the Petit Le Mans.