3D printing transforms driver experience, and performance for record-breaking electric race car
The McGill Formula Electric racing car is one of the most successful vehicles in North
America with a string of Formula SAE Electric podium finishes. This is partially due to
a new dashboard 3D printed in DSM materials by AON3D. The 3D printed dashboard was
larger, lighter, more ergonomic and delivered a better driver experience.
“Each McGill electric race car strives for better performance, ergonomics and
integrated design. When competition judges sit in the cockpit and experience
the dashboard produced by AON3D and DSM, they can see we are serious
about developing a better vehicle. It’s helped improve performance and driver
experience, but it’s also gained a lot of credibility for McGill Formula Electric.”
Jad Ghorayeb, Team Manager, McGill Formula Electric.
As the MFE 20 electric racing car speeds around the track at over 120 km/h, power, weight and aerodynamics are essential to split-second performance improvement. Also critical is driver experience and control ergonomics. McGill Formula Electric is a design team of around 50 students at McGill University in Canada that builds, develops and races the MFE series of formula electric cars. The project gives students practical engineering experience, but also shows that “sustainable technologies are dependable, effective, extremely powerful and fun”. One challenging aspect was making the dashboard unit that holds all the electronic controls. Previously, it was cut, bent and welded from aluminum sheeting. But it was inelegant, hard to fit and made positioning instruments like screens and buttons difficult. At competitions - where design and technology as well as race performance are assessed – judges disliked the design and were concerned about a metal part positioned so close to the driver.
After graduating, alumni often use their McGill Formula Electric experience in their careers. Some students set up business developing electric powered snowmobiles, while others work in Formula 1 or for manufacturers like Tesla. It was one such alumni, Leif Tiltins from AON3D, a DSM business partner and open-platform, 3D-printer manufacturer, who helped resolve the MFE car dashboard problem.
McGill Formula Electric had redesigned and 3D-printed a new dashboard for the MFE 19 vehicle using an ABS thermoplastic polymer. It showed the potential of additive manufacturing, but there was a problem. At a Midwest race event during a hot summer, the material became sticky and control buttons got stuck in various recesses of the dashboard.
AON3D produced the dashboard on its AON-M2 hightemperature, industrial 3D printer using DSM’s Novamid® ID1030 CF10, a carbon fiber filled PA6/66 copolymer filament. With one of the lowest carbon fiber loadings at 10 percent, the material makes parts that are tough, strong and stiff. AON3D also chose Novamid® ID1030 CF10 because it is low cost and is one of the few materials with a soluble support material, so finishing and printing
complex designs is easier.
Tiltins says, “It’s the materials that unlock applications. We’ve evaluated dozens of materials and expanded our additive manufacturing expertise. As with McGill Formula Electric, that knowledge with application consultancy and our technology delivers added-value solutions. It’s how we came across DSM Novamid® ID1030 CF10; it performed fantastically and is now one of our top recommendations to customers.”
AON3D helped fine-tune the design and printed the new dashboard unit. It took a week to produce, compared to around a month using aluminum, and fit in the cockpit with minimal adjustment or finishing. Jad Ghorayeb, Team Manager at McGill Formula Electric says, “We initially thought AON3D would simply print the part. Instead, we received valuable input about design and additive manufacturing, which we’re applying to the next McGill Formula Electric car.”
The Formula SAE Electric 2019 Championship in Nebraska is the leading event of its kind in North America. At the event, MFE 20 achieved a slew of successes including overall winner and first place for design and acceleration. The car broke the three second barrier for 0-100 km/h acceleration with a time of 2.92 seconds. MFE 20 is the lightest car McGill Formula Electric has built. The dashboard was ergonomically better because it fit across the cockpit effectively and could be designed to meet driver needs. For example, the screen is countersunk so it lies flat in the dashboard unit and buttons are located near the driver’s hands instead of behind the steering wheel. “DSM’s material allowed us to reduce the component weight by about 20 percent, while still making a bigger dashboard that could withstand midwest summer temperatures in excess of 100oC,” says Ghorayeb. The DSM and AON3D dashboard was an important part of the MFE 20’s success due to its impact on ergonomics, driver experience and design.
NOTICE: Novamid® is a registered trademark of Royal DSM N.V. The information
presented herein is believed to be accurate. However, DSM expressly disclaims any
product warranties which may be implied including warranties or merchantability
and/or fitness for a particular purpose. Purchasers are responsible for determining
the suitability of the product for its intended use and the appropriate manner
of utilizing the product in purchaser’s production processes and applications so
as to ensure safety, quality and effectiveness. DSM reserves the right to change
specifications of their products without notice. © 2020 DSM All rights reserved.