Home Applications & Case Studies ZHAW students rely on 3D printing for race car construction

ZHAW students rely on 3D printing for race car construction

As part of the Formula Student competition, the team from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) has developed an electric racing car that also includes 3D-printed parts. These components are manufactured using the selective laser sintering (SLS) process and come from Sintratec, a leading Swiss company in this field.

The ZHAW team, led by Moreno Apicella, a mechanical engineering student and team leader of Zurich UAS Racing, has the ambitious goal of qualifying with their vehicle for at least three Formula Student events in Europe.

“We currently have about 65 members – mostly from the technical field, but also from business and economic studies”, says Apicella. “What makes the competition unique for me is the hands-on experience it offers students in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world engineering challenges,” Apicella states.

The team is working intensively in the university’s in-house workshop to finalize the current model, which should be ready for rollout in May. The particular challenge of the project is to find innovative solutions while adhering to a tight schedule and budget.

“3D printing is essential for our team because it allows us to prototype quickly and customize complex parts with high precision”, explains the mechanical engineering student. “We took a handprint of our driver and 3D scanned it. Based on that, we were able to ergonomically design the steering wheel to fit his hands perfectly.”

One example of the use of this technology is the steering wheel integrated into the racing car, which was customized based on a 3D scan of the driver. It was produced on a Sintratec S3 printer using robust PA12 nylon.

“This geometry is practically impossible to manufacture using machining processes, which is why we chose SLS.”

Another highlight of the vehicle are the watertight cooling jackets, which are of central importance for the drivetrain. These were also manufactured using SLS technology, which enabled the complex internal geometry that could not be produced using conventional methods.

The success of the project is not only evident in the technical implementation, but also in the collaboration with the industry, which provides valuable feedback and support.

“The cooperation with Sintratec was highly satisfactory”, Moreno Apicella concludes. “We had excellent technical support and, with SLS, had the best material and process that fulfilled our requirements and helped to optimize the performance of our car.”

The experience and expertise that the team has gained through the use of SLS offers considerable potential not only for motorsport, but also for other areas of the automotive industry. The ZHAW students prove that innovative manufacturing processes such as 3D printing can make a decisive contribution to successfully mastering the challenges of modern product development.

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