UK based automotive startup Carbon Performance, headquartered in Leeds, has launched a business built purely on additive manufacturing.
Applying composite and metal 3D printing, artificial intelligence and blockchain, the company is promoting much-needed sustainability within the industry.
In a proof of concept test, the company has created a 3D printed a suspension upright for the Lotus Elise sportscar, in an effort to improve its performance as a product of Industry 4.0.
Part of the Northern Powerhouse
Carbon Performance is a member of Autodesk’s Future of British Manufacturing technology promotion, and is a partner of the Northern Powerhouse, the UK government’s effort to rejuvenate manufacturing in the north of the country. Under this initiative Leeds, the city where Carbon Performance in based, received a £67.5 million cash injection from the government in January 2017.
Though still less than five years old, the company has already secured the collaboration of international automotive standards organization SAE International. As such, Carbon Performance produces bespoke parts for the Formula SAE and Baja SAE student racing competitions.
One of the things the company singles out its market differentiator is that is components are “packages and retailed to the general market” for Motorsport and premium automotive companies.
As R N Murugesan, Director of Carbon Performance, asserts:
“We are a truly British company deeply engrossed into our vision of taking additive manufacturing into the retail shelves of the automotive industry.”
Car parts made with 3D printing, AI and blockchain
Carbon Performance’s suspension upright demonstration parts are designed to be 3D printed in aluminum, increasing lightness by 25% (when compared to machined equivalents) and improving camber stiffness by a further 25%.
AI is applied in the production process through the part’s “co-development” in generative design. This method allows engineers to produce thousands of design possibilities within set parameters, then select the best for manufacturing. Though something of a buzzword within the industry, such tools do help expand the limits of traditional designs, and find new solutions to manufacturing challenges.
One of the most important parts of the external structure of the car, the suspension upright is used to attach a wheel, brakes, and steering to the body of the car. Through the combination of generative design and 3D printing, Carbon Performance has consolidated the upright parts from nine into one.
A further feature of the company’s production method is the ability to integrate QR codes, and custom features, into part design at no additional cost. These QR codes can be used to link a part to its digital inventory entry, a database that, through Carbon Performance, is protected by blockchain.
Startup seeking investment
Over the next two years Carbon Performance has set a high bar for its product development. In addition to adding graphene to its part production, the company is looking toward development of “intelligent mobility solutions” and “sustainable energy transportation” (e.g. the Olli bus).
In order to pursue these goals however, the company is in need of investment, “Carbon Performance is currently pursuing an investment round to add more commercial automotive and motorsport applications into its portfolio to commence e-retail and retail through a brick-and-mortar model and bring manufacturing in-house.”
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Featured image shows Carbon Performance designed suspension upright. Image via Carbon Performance