With the unveiling of the Number 10 car, driven by Aric Almirola, in collaboration with 3D Systems for the August 11, 2019 NASCAR event at Michigan International Speedway, we thought we would get some insights from Reneau Van Landingham, aerodynamic design group manager, for the team.
How does Stewart-Haas Racing use Additive Manufacturing for its Race teams?
We have used additive manufacturing for seven years and 3D scanning technology for five years, but this year decided to up our game with the installation of a new ProX 800 SLA 3D printer by 3D Systems to be able to print larger, more accurate parts for wind tunnel testing and pre-production part verification.
You mentioned 3D scanning. What is that for?
We use 3D scanners and 3D Systems’ Geomagic Wrap reverse engineering software to identify any deviations in the vehicle body panels when compared to the NASCAR gold surface model. This enables us to ensure that the car bodies have been built within the NASCAR rules and that they have the best possible aerodynamic performance for the races.
How is additive manufacturing helping the team?
The addition of the new SLA 3D printer is allowing us to be far more responsive between races in creating crucial changes to the cars and getting them tested and implemented. Our build quality is improving as a result. One key differentiator is the provision of the 3D Sprint print preparation software with the SLA 3D printer. 3D Sprint is a cut above the older software alternatives out in the market: it makes 3D print setup incredibly easy and delivers a range of tools for automated and semi-automated support structure set up. It handles our SOLIDWORKS CAD data with ease, and even repairs 3D data that may be faulty. It is a huge advantage. 3D Systems’ technology is a critical part of our process and the company’s support in implementing it has been incredible.
The NASCAR race series seems to go on forever. How does the team find the stamina?
The race season lasts 10 months with races almost every weekend, and it can be very intense. While fans and race viewers often only see the driver, the finished car and the pit crews, they are actually just like the top of an iceberg – there is a huge, committed team of professionals that you can’t often see, who collaborate closely on design, engineering, assembly, logistics, marketing and more. As a team, we gain our strength from each other and our stamina is fueled by all of us wanting to win each race.
What advice would you have for a student wishing to get into engineering for NASCAR teams?
Go to college to study mechanical engineering, materials science or motorsports engineering. While in school apply for an internship with a race team to complement your academic studies with real world experience. After graduation, see if you can work full time for that team as a design engineer or reach out to other teams to fill a similar position. Given the adoption of additive manufacturing in the teams, a knowledge of design for additive is a further, valuable skill set which goes beyond traditional design considerations. To master it, students need to keep an open mind, and an approach of ‘problem-solving’ to be able to truly understand design for additive.