Rare Alfa Romeo Tipo sports car restored with additive manufacturing

KW Heritage, the restoration arm of UK engineering firm KW Special Projects (KWSP), has restored one of just 12 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 sports cars with additive manufacturing for its debut at the UK historic motor car festival, Goodwood Revival.

“Obsolescence is a major issue in the classic and historic vehicle market but modern engineering techniques offer a timely and effective solution,” said Edward Smith, Head of Heritage Engineering at KW Heritage.

“By working closely with teams, restorers, collectors and vehicle owners, we are helping enthusiasts strike the perfect balance between old and new, with modern engineering techniques keeping the cars of yesteryear on the road for longer.”

The restored Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3. Photo via KW Heritage.
The restored Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3. Photo via KW Heritage.

Back on the race tracks

English racing driver Martin Stretton, who previously won the Historic Formula One Championship in 1995, approached KW Heritage with his 1971 Italian Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3, which suffered front engine cover deterioration, causing ignition problems. With the intentions to enter it in the upcoming Goodwood Revival festival, Stretton sought out engineers who could digitally restore replacement parts as the original components had become obsolete.

Taking on the task, engineers at KW Heritage created 3D scans of the engine cover that were imported into CAD. There the team re-engineered the part eliminating prior design defects while adhering to the FIA certification. A prototype component used for in-situ validation was 3D printed overnight in a high-performance thermoplastic. Following this stage, a final component was cast in aluminum.

This vehicle restoration cost less than a third of traditionally manufacturing the part, according to KW Heritage. In addition, the 3D CAD files created during this process have been stored for as a “digital asset” ready for future spare-part requirements.

“Thanks to this technology and the skills of the guys at KWSP we’re now back on the grid with the knowledge that we also have spare parts should we need them in the future,” said Stretton.

3D scanning of a front cover component from the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3. Photo via KW Heritage.
3D scanning of a front cover component from the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3. Photo via KW Heritage.

Alfa Romeo and additive manufacturing

Earlier this year, Sauber Motorsport AG, also known as the Alfa Romeo F1 Sauber Team, upgraded its Swiss car manufacturing facilities with five ProX 800 SLA 3D printers from 3D Systems.

Prior to this, automotive giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which encompass brands such as Alfa Romeo, demonstrated its earlier adoption of additive manufacturing technologies with the 2015 release of the Alfa Giulia which featured a 3D modeled front grill.

Stretton’s restored Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 will be showcased at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, in Chichester, West Sussex from the 7-9th of September.

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Featured image shows the restored Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3. Photo via KW Heritage.