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Composites

Documentary charts 21st century supercar build

Complex parts included a solid composite firewall sandwich core printed in two halves.

17th February 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Minnesota, USA

Transport/​Aerospace

Stratasys has partnered with Radford, a Minnesota-based luxury automotive brand, to create over 500 3D-printed parts for the launch of the Lotus Type 62-2 coach, as featured in a new Discovery+ documentary, Radford Returns.

The documentary, now available for streaming, tells the story of the revival of the art of coachbuilding using technology for the 21st century. The show features car builder and host Ant Anstead and former Formula One champion driver Jenson Button and documents the build of the retro-modern Lotus Type 62-2 supercar.

Viewers get an inside look at the process from designing to prototyping, tooling and producing production parts using Stratasys FDM, PolyJet and stereolithography 3D printing technologies.

“Stratasys 3D printing technology gave us the design freedom and ability to easily create customised, one-off pieces and parts for these two prototype vehicles,” said Anstead. “It allowed us to fully embrace customised coachbuilding but with updated processes using 21st century technologies.”

To produce the first two cars, over 500 parts were 3D-printed at the Radford Studio. Using the Stratasys GrabCAD Shop workflow software, the Radford team scheduled and tracked their 3D prints across five global locations – using a fleet of up to 20 different Stratasys 3D printers similtaneously.

“By integrating 3D printing technology into its shop, Radford has been able to bring 1960s-style supercar automaking into the 21st century with the high-end, hyper-customised style and features that its customers expect in a vehicle of this calibre,” said Pat Carey, senior vice president at Stratasys. “It’s an extreme example of something we see every day in the auto industry. Everyone making investments in new vehicles wants a deeper level of customisation and 3D printing is helping make it possible.”

By utilising various 3D printers and technologies, the team was able to produce parts such as a large solid composite firewall sandwich core, printed in two halves on the Stratasys F900 printer in Ultem 1010 resin. The part was bonded together into a single piece and then wrapped with carbon fibre without the use of a layup tool. The design of the firewall included complex mounting features for interior speakers, a fuel filler mount, and the luggage compartment. Additionally, many exterior items like side mirror housings, radiator ducts, body vents and mounting brackets were printed in FDM Nylon 12 carbon fibre.

Stratasys will continue to support the Radford Lotus Type 62-2 project with 3D-printed production parts across the company’s various 3D printing technologies.

www.stratasys.com

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