MINI World Rally Championship Team Sees 3D Printing as Critical Tool

Stratasys has announced that its Dimension 3D printers and Fortus Production 3D Printers played a critical role in the development of the new MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car (WRC). And it says the technology is being used to manufacturer finished components for actual use on the car.

The MINI Cooper WRC Team used the additive manufacturing machines to create a full-scale mock-up of the vehicle directly from the CAD (computer aided design) files, and it used the technology extensively on other assemblies and components of the vehicle.

The MINI WRC Team relied heavily on 3D printing throughout the car’s two-year development cycle. To design the test car, engineers used Stratasys FDM 3D Printing technology to create large parts of the engine bay, gearbox, steering assembly, vehicle interior and even engine components, such as intake valves. In addition to prototyping parts for the test track, the MINI WRC Team even produced some end-use parts for the finished car. One of the most visible of these is the ergonomically styled gearshift display and control panel, which is mounted on the steering column. The team now has a manufacturing list of 15 components to be 3D printed for each car, and it plans an initial production run of 20 of the limited edition cars for both its own use and to sell to other race teams.

The development of the car, which will be featured in this year’s World Rally Championship, has impressed upon MINI WRC Team the importance of 3D printing in saving time, reducing tooling costs and enabling more design freedom of complex geometric parts.

“We would find it nearly impossible to build another car without using FDM technology,” said Paul Doe, chief design engineer. “We would never have dreamt of building the parts we did without the Stratasys machines. Using composite parts would have cost up to three to five times more.”

“MINI WRC Team’s use of FDM technology to develop a race-worthy car for WRC demonstrates that it’s both efficient and cost effective,” said Tim Heller, managing director of Stratasys Europe. “It’s nice to be considered an indispensable part of the prestigious team’s operation.”

MINI WRC Team used Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D Printers and Fortus 400mc Production 3D Printers with polycarbonate and ABS materials.