The US-based additive manufacturing (AM) company 3D Systems
has announced that Rodin Cars, the New Zealand-based manufacturer of the ‘ultimate track car’, has selected its metal AM solutions to produce parts for the soon-to-be-released hypercar — the Rodin FZero. Rodin Cars
designs and builds bespoke single-seat, open-wheel high-performance vehicles ‘that are designed to be faster than contemporary Formula One cars’. Among the hundreds of metal parts Rodin Cars is 3-D printing for the Rodin Fzero is a ‘first-of-its-kind’ eight-speed sequential gearbox with a hydraulically controlled differential.
This ‘custom component’ can only be produced using AM and was made possible through the collaboration of Rodin Cars’ designers and 3D Systems’ applications engineers.
A gearbox created using traditional manufacturing methods would be cast out of magnesium or machined from billet material. The resulting component would not only be slow to produce but heavier; neither would it ‘withstand the rigors presented by the track’. Rodin Cars wanted to ‘flip this design into a true innovation’ that was produced by 3-D printing titanium, thereby ensuring the assembly would be compact, light, strong, and durable.
Rodin Cars released its first high-performance track car — the Rodin FZed –—in 2019, with a gearbox designed by the UK-based engineering firm Ricardo. The 18-month design process — a collaboration between Rodin Cars for the casings and Ricardo for the internals — resulted in a gearbox (with a hydraulically controlled differential) that can only be produced using AM due to its ability to directly 3-D print the necessary internal galleries and thin-wall bearing and mount structures.
The application engineers at 3D Systems helped facilitate the production of the new gearbox, which includes 2mm-thick walls and weighs just 68kg.
David Dicker, the founder of Rodin Cars, said: “3-D printing allows us to design and create components otherwise unachievable using traditional methods of manufacturing. With the Rodin FZero gearbox, we had specific criteria we wanted to meet in terms of weight and durability.
“Because of the size and quality required for such a large component, it was only possible to print it on 3D Systems’ DMP Factory 500 machine. We couldn’t source another AM supplier that could offer a similar solution for our needs.”