Formula 1 is defined by its cutting edge technologies and innovation, and now one of the leading teams has suggested that 3D printing could be the future of the sport.
Having popped along to the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes recently to see how an F1 car is designed, built and tested, the team told us how, despite current limitations, it expects 3D printing to further evolve the sport moving forward.
According to the four time reigning Formula 1 World Champions, 3D printing could soon be used as a trackside factory for printing test parts or replacements for those damaged in a crash.
They added: “We could get to a point where we can print out a new front wing at the track if we’ve damaged one.”
Red Bull Racing already uses 3D printing extensively, but not for parts used on its actual race cars.
Within a room full of 3D printers all whirring away, doing their thing, the team explained how it 3D prints test parts used on a 60 per cent scale car which is then sent to the wind tunnel.
Allowing the team to test the aerodynamic performance of potential parts before moving to a full size production, these 3D printed replicas are unable to feature on the race cars for one simple reason, materials.
At present the resin and powdered composite materials capable of being used in 3D printers cannot stand the load weights and pressures put on a Formula 1 car during a race. With a resin refill for one of RBR’s 3D printers costing as much as £60,000, it is currently a cheaper but far from wallet friendly option than jumping straight to carbon fibre.
Until 3D printers are developed enough to be able to utilise more robust materials, the use of 3D printing within F1 will remain locked firmly in the development processor. According to Red Bull, however, this future is being seriously looked at and could be a reality sooner rather than later.
If Red Bull is looking to 3D printing as the future of the sport though, who are we to argue?
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