Wind tunnel and aerodynamic applications 3d printing
There are no other applications as glamorous as aerodynamic and wind tunnel applications in the world of 3d printing.
Formula 1 teams have been using 3d printing technologies for many years now. They mainly use Stereolithography for the wind tunnel parts which need to have a smooth surface. They also need to be rigid so the parts will not flex when being subject to great forces. The teams will go through many iterations of a single part and cad designers will be adjusting pitch on aerofoils by as little as 1 degree at a time.
This is understandable considering the high stakes involved in such a cutting edge motor sport. With the further development of ‘Back to the Future’ style hoverboards it will be very interesting to see if the sport adopts or develops into the futuristic vision that we all see for F1. That being the hover style racing of the famous classic by Designers Republic and Psygnosis……yes I am talking of the Playstation game Wipeout. If you have never played it I would strongly advise you have a go, then again why don’t you go the whole hog and fork out a few hundred pounds for a track day session in a Formula 3 car?
FDM technology has it’s own place in the aerodynamic application 3d printing. The material (mainly ABS) is stronger than SLA so if the parts are accidentally dropped or knocked then it is more likely to withstand it where as SLA on the other hand can be quite brittle. Another great advantage of FDM for wind tunnel parts is the fact that they can be made with a honeycomb infill and this is really the holy grail for many engineering parts in aerodynamics. For the structure to be light weight and strong is the two main attributes for any part in this field.