Supersonic car turns to additive manufacturing for help
- Published: August 29, 2013
A critical component of the car, known as the Bloodhound, is the nose tip for the car, which will be the first part to break through any new land speed record.
The tip is subject to forces as high as 4,915 lbs/ft2. To cope with such loadings, a prototype tip has been designed in titanium and will be bonded to the car's carbon fiber monocoque body, which forms the front-half of the car. Renishaw is providing a manufacturing resource to the project team to produce the nose tip with its laser melting machines, which use an additive manufacturing process to fuse together very thin layers of fine metallic powders to form highly complex, functional components. The prototype will be used by the Bloodhound team to evaluate possible manufacturing processes and carry out further engineering analysis.
Dan Johns, lead engineer at Bloodhound SSC responsible for materials, processes and technologies, says "we believe the key benefit of using an additive manufacturing process to produce the nose tip is the ability to create a hollow, but highly rigid titanium structure, and to vary the wall thickness of the tip to minimize weight. To machine this component conventionally would be extremely challenging, result in design compromises, and waste as much as 95 per cent of the expensive raw material.
On July 4, David Willetts MP for the UK Minister for Universities and Science, formally opened the new Bloodhound Technical Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, where the car is now being assembled. He also announced a $1.5 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support the project's education and outreach mission, which aims to inspire children about STEM subjects.
Simon Scott, director of Renishaw's Additive Manufacturing Products Division, said "with 3D printing having such a high profile in the media and political circles, it is fantastic that the only UK manufacturer of a metal-based additive manufacturing machine is able to contribute to this iconic British project which aims to inspire a new generation of engineers here and around the world.