Supercars are currently gaining momentum right now, and so is the use of additive manufacturing technologies for the fabrication of some of their components. Hackrod , Arash Motor Company…and now Rodin Cars, a New-Zealand based car manufacturer whose team is obsessed with engineered-grade and fast cars.
At the heart of the company’s production technologies, there is a diverse collection of machinery and 3D printers, including 3D Systems’ selective laser sintering (SLS) for production parts, stereolithography (SLA) to produce tooling for carbon fiber forms as well as one of the largest 3D titanium printers in the world: the Factory 500 platform from 3D Systems that it recently acquired.
This metal AM solution will support the production of hundreds of parts for its soon-to-be-released hypercar, the Rodin FZero. In the midst of these parts, the company, together with 3D Systems, highlight the first-of-its-kind 8-speed sequential gearbox with a hydraulically controlled differential.
This completely custom component can only be produced using additive manufacturing and was made possible through the collaboration of Rodin Cars’ design prowess and 3D Systems’ deep application expertise and additive manufacturing leadership.
3D Systems explains that 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 and would not withstand the rigors presented by the track. Rodin Cars wanted to flip this design into a true innovation – the ultimate component produced from 3D printed Titanium that would be compact, light, strong, and durable.
Manufactured using the DMP Factory 500, the new gearbox includes 2mm thick walls and features a total weight of 68 kilograms.
For this specific production, Rodin Cars’ engineers worked alongside members of 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) in Littleton, Colorado, and Leuven, Belgium to bring this design to life.
The application engineers in Littleton optimized the gearbox print design details for additive manufacturing at the large scale achievable on the DMP Factory 500 and produced the first part on its DMP Factory 500 in Leuven.
This industry-leading solution – featuring a vacuum chamber to ensure the lowest O2 content – enables the production of seamless large parts as large as 500mm x 500mm x 500mm. This results in the highest surface quality for metal 3D printed parts with outstanding material properties.
Since 3D Systems’ AIG has successfully completed the technology transfer to Rodin Cars for full production. Rodin Cars recently installed a DMP Factory 500 on-site at its newly expanded facility and will produce the gearbox, as well as hundreds of other bespoke parts, for the Rodin FZero.
“3D printing allows us to design and create components otherwise unachievable using traditional methods of manufacturing,” said David Dicker, founder, Rodin Cars. “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 who was able to offer a similar solution for our needs – the print quality, volume capacity, testing facilities in Leuven, and continued technological support.”
“Additive manufacturing is enabling industry leaders to defy limitations and stand apart,” said Kevin Baughey, segment leader, transportation & motorsports, 3D Systems. “As a high technology, high-performance car constructor, Rodin Cars delivers unparalleled vehicles to their customers. This is a shining example of how additive manufacturing not only enables parts to be produced that couldn’t be created through conventional methods, it is also delivering a lighter, more durable, beautiful vehicle. It’s the blending of the art of design with the science of hyper-performance cars and motorsports.”