British engineering service bureau and consultancy firm Graphite AM has confirmed that it is an official 3D printing partner of the Bloodhound LSR supersonic car project. Applying its SLS expertise, the company is supporting the team’s ambitious goal of breaking the land speed record by supplying lightweight and high strength parts for the vehicle.
“We at Graphite AM have been delighted to be supporting the Bloodhound LSR project and have built an array of parts large and small,” said a company spokesperson in a recent announcement. “We are a small cog in a very big wheel and are proud to be supporting the project.”
The news comes just months after the Bloodhound team confirmed that they would be trying for a 500 mph test run in October following the successful acquisition and relaunch by Yorkshire businessman Ian Warhurst in March this year.
Andy Green, the current World Land Speed Record holder and Bloodhound LSR pilot, praised the manufacturing methods being applied to help the team reach above 1000 mph on land. “Even something as simple as a piece of ducting” he explains, “tells a fascinating story about the cutting-edge technology being used in Bloodhound.”
3D printing for a new land speed record
Launched in October 2008, then as the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC), the Bloodhound Land Speed Record or LSR is the successor to the ThrustSSC which became the first vehicle to break the sound barrier on October 15, 1997. It is powered by two engines – one a Rolls-Royce jet engine and the other a hybrid rocket thruster. A British project, Swansea University’s College of Engineering is heavily involved in the construction of the car, having incorporated the vehicle into its curriculum. British additive manufacturing specialist Renishaw has also contributed to its development, producing several metal parts including a prototype steering wheel.
So far, as of 2017, the Bloodhound LSR has completed its first recorded runway test attaining a speed of 200 miles per hour. Ramping up this effort, the vehicle has now been cleared for a 500 mph run on the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. Once this stage is completed, the team intends to tackle the record-breaking 1000 mph mark late 2020.
Graphite AM and the Bloodhound
The original holding company for the Bloodhound vehicle entered administration in 2018 rending the future of the vehicle unstable. Ownership of the project, however, has since been assumed by Grafton LSR Limited, with owner Warhurst leading as the CEO. Speaking to the BBC at the time of the takeover earlier this year, Warhurst said, “There’s a bit more sorting of the car to do, but nothing major, to get to that first step of testing it at high speed […] It just had to carry on.”
With the renewed support for the project Graphite AM recently signed a new sponsorship agreement with Bloodhound LSR. In the terms of this partnership the company has produced a number of complex air duct fittings for the vehicle. A carbon fiber reinforced powder was used as the material for the fittings, with Graphite AM providing a high quality smooth finish to the parts.
Commenting on the SLS technology used to make the component, Green says, “This produces a tough, high-temperature-resistant component in almost any shape – just what we need – […] as this is very much next-generation technology.”
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Featured image shows the Bloodhound LSR following its relaunch in March 2019. Photo via Bloodhound LSR