At first glance, it looks like a normal mirror, but it isn’t. It is a 3D-printed part, a technology that CUPRA has begun to implement in the development of the new Leon Competition racing car in collaboration with HP. Greater agility, efficiency and flexibility are the benefits of a system that is set to revolutionise car development.
“For the new CUPRA Leon Competition, we modelled the steering wheel’s centre control module, the bonnet air vents, door mirrors and the brake and water-cooling inlets,” explained Xavi Serra, the Head of technical development at CUPRA Racing. “These parts were produced using HP’s industrial-grade Jet Fusion 5200 3D printing solution and included in the demanding development tests put to the new racing model.”
More efficiency, greater speed
The main goal with this technology, which offers multiple benefits, is to have a lot of parts in a short time. Engineers can quickly test a wide variety of designs and furthermore, since vehicle development is now done in parallel, this technology enables quicker response to any changes in the design process.
“The work with CUPRA demonstrates the power of 3D printing and digital manufacturing – changing the way the world designs and manufactures,” said Virginia Palacios, Head of Systems Product Management, 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc.
Wind-tested 3D parts
In TCR competition, the door mirror is a part which, according to the rules, must have the same shape as the production car. But the CUPRA engineers went one step further. “We wanted to add an additional function, which is to cool the driver. We therefore had to design an air intake in the maximum pressure zone to achieve this effect,” said Xavi.
The place where these materials are tested is the wind tunnel, where the 3D-printed parts are verified in exactly the same way as the rest. “The bigger the variety of parts we can test in this facility, the better. It enables us to make much faster progress,” he added.
As it is a racing car, the final phase of development can only be carried out in one place: the circuit. “The results were excellent, and some were even surprising, because we were looking to push the material to its limits,” the CUPRA engineer reported.
Making complex ideas a reality – fast
“3D printing is going to signal a turning point in the automotive industry by accelerating lead times and HP 3D technology is helping designers create parts that could not be produced with other technologies,” said Palacios, predicting that the technology will continue to be key in countless fields to make the most complex ideas a reality.