OBR races for first place with RPS 3D printing

UK-based industrial 3D printer OEM RPS has provided 3D printed parts and expertise to Oxford Brookes Racing (OBR), the student racing team of Oxford Brookes University. Delegated as the official 3D printing partner of OBR, RPS has worked towards guiding the students in use of the technology, while also supplying the team with parts made from a variety of technologies and materials. 

OBR has used the 3D printed components and guidance from RPS to help design a single-seat Formula Student racing car, with the aim of reaching first place at the Formula Student racing competition in Silverstone this week, from 17-21 July. The student racing team emulated the applications of 3D printing in high-performance industries and motorsport, like Formula One, to achieve improved performance. The benefits of the technology gave students the freedom to create complex geometries for parts on the vehicle, while also cutting down on weight and time when compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

Maria Fatialofa, Marketing Manager at RPS, comments: 

“We believe it is important to support and mentor the future graduates of STEM education and we are very pleased to be working with the students at OBR. We are excited to see the results and we wish them all the best in the competition.”

The OBR and RPS logo, side by side. Photo via RPS.
The OBR and RPS logo, side by side. Photo via RPS.

3D printing the route to first place for OBR

RPS initially began its collaboration with OBR in 2018, where they worked together to improve the university racing team’s Formula Student car for the racing season. Dubbed ‘Frankie,’ this car finished second in the 2018 Formula Student competition. Now, OBR are looking to improve on their previous results with its new OBR19 vehicle, AKA ‘Lily’. 

To improve the performance of the OBR19, RPS helped students from the aerodynamics team to 3D print molds using RPS’ NEO800 stereolithography system with the PerFORM resin from global material producer DSM. PerFORM was identified for the molds as it can withstand the heat and pressure of an autoclave, allowing for the part to be layered up with carbon fiber. The 3D printed molds enabled excellent sidewall quality and a detailed resolution to help improve the performance of the car. 

RPS also helped OBS to manufacture parts using a laser sintering 3D printer and PA 603-CF material from Advanced Laser Materials (ALM), a subsidiary of leading 3D printer provider EOS. PA 603-CF is geared towards wind tunnel model testing and high-performance racing, thanks to its stiffness and heat-resistance. With the supplied technology and material, OBR was able to create lightweight and complex components that also maintained high dimensional accuracy, stiffness and strength. 

3D printed parts for the OBR19. Photo via RPS.
3D printed parts for the OBR19. Photo via RPS.

Finally, HP’s Multi-Jet Fusion technology and PA12 material was employed by RPS to help OBR iterate the design of the intake plenum and steering wheel on the OBR19. In this instance, 3D printing was applied specifically to create complex internal and external structures, with light and ergonomic designs. The students were able to save over 52% in weight for the intake plenum compared to previous years, saving weight in the steering wheel too. 

Commenting on the collaboration, Alejandro Garcia, Head of Business Development at Oxford Brookes University, states, “As competition approaches we cannot be more excited to showcase our all-new aerodynamic package and 3D printed components in our car, developed thanks to RPS cutting-edge technologies.” 

“This collaboration has been of great benefit to our team and we are looking forward to compete next weekend at FSUK 2019 and maintain our hunger for innovation and challenging the limits of engineering.”

OBR19 steering wheel design iterated with 3D printing. Photo via RPS.
OBR19 steering wheel design iterated with 3D printing. Photo via RPS.

RPS 3D printing expertise

RPS is an industrial 3D printing specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. The company has developed several key partnerships over the years, which has allowed it to help the OBR team with its wide range of 3D printing solutions. 

A recent update in the company’s collaboration with DSM saw RPS join the material company’s Trimax Collective, which is designed to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing. As part of the collaboration, businesses can lease the RPS NEO800 stereolithography system and DSM resin to optimize production processes.

RPS’ partnership with ALM has been ongoing since October 2010. In their collaboration, the companies have designed and produced a broad range of specialty laser sintering (LS) materials for high-value industries including high-impact sports, consumer products and automotive industries, particularly Formula One. 

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Featured image shows the OBR19 vehicle, AKA ‘Lily’. Photo via OBR.