BAC enlists Stratasys 3D printing for Mono R supercar prototyping

British supercar manufacturer Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) has utilized fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing from Stratasys to help manufacture its Mono R supercar.

Using an F900 Production acquired through Stratasys reseller Tri Tech 3D, BAC was able to produce a functional prototype of an air intake system in a few hours. The airbox would usually require a two-week turnaround time using traditional manufacturing. 3D printing also helped the company speed up its road testing and design validation processes, while improving the final, on-road performance of the Mono R. 

“Access to quick, efficient, industrial-grade additive manufacturing was a game-changer for this development process,” commented Ian Briggs, BAC Design Director. “Within hours, we were able to produce an accurate 3D printed prototype of the airbox and install it on the car for testing.” 

“This enabled us to reduce our design-to-manufacturing time significantly. The prototype was as close, performance-wise, as if we had produced the prototype in carbon-fibre reinforced plastic made from a mould. It also withstood the tests on the track with ease.”

Side view of the BAC Mono R. Photo via Andrew Lofthouse/BAC.
Side view of the BAC Mono R. Photo via Andrew Lofthouse/BAC.

Mono R achieves high speeds with Stratasys 3D printing

BAC’s Mono R vehicle debuted this summer at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex. The company partnered with global material producer DSM to 3D print steering wheel grips and air inlets for the vehicle, which represents its latest single seater road-legal sports car. The Mono R is able to reach speeds of up to 170mph, while generating over 340 brake horsepower.

The airbox is a critical element of the car’s high performance. Its purpose is to channel oxygen from outside the vehicle through the intake hoses of each cylinder on the combustion engine, essential for the car’s cooling. This means that the airbox is often subjected to temperatures exceeding 100°C. It features a complex geometry that makes it difficult to manufacture using traditional methods, leading to an increase in lead times and potential costs. 

Turning to additive manufacturing, the BAC team produced a prototype iteration of the airbox component using Stratasys’ F900 and Nylon 12CF carbon fibre thermoplastic. The material is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 140°C, meeting the requirements of the airbox. As a result of the 3D printed air intake, BAC was able to install the airbox and conduct performance and on-road tests within a short and flexible time frame. 

3D printing also provided BAC with the ability to reiterate the design quickly to ensure it accurately fitted to the Mono R. “The freedom of design offered by Stratasys’ industrial 3D printers was essential for the airbox. We were able to tweak the design and not worry that the final 3D printed version wouldn’t match the exact size or geometry we needed,” added Briggs. 

3D printed air intake. Photo via Stratasys.
3D printed air intake. Photo via Stratasys.

Stratasys and the automotive sector

Stratasys’ 3D printing solutions has established itself as a popular choice for producing functional prototypes in high performance automotive applications. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a collaboration with Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) to accelerate the prototyping and new component design of its race cars.

Furthermore, Stratasys also announced a collaboration with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Arrow SPM), an NTT IndyCar Series racing team, to integrate its 3D printing technology into Arrow SPM’s manufacturing process. Using the Fortus 450mc and F370, the motorsports company is creating functional prototypes, product components and rugged tooling for its racing vehicles.

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Featured image shows titanium parts on the BAC Mono R. Photo via Andrew Lofthouse/BAC.