Ryerson Formula Racing team uses carbon fiber 3D printing to create strong, durable parts for their racecar

Article by Kelly Clancy updated August 6, 2021

Article

Ryerson Formula Racing (RFR) is a team of students from different programs who collaborate to design, build, and race a formula-style open-wheeled race car. The team participates in multiple race events including the most anticipated annual Formula SAE Michigan international competition.

The RFR team approached Javelin’s Additive Professional Service’s team to help create a strong, durable heel cup part for the pedal box that could be used across cars. Javelin has partnered with the RFR team for many years, and we are proud to collaborate and support students.

3D printed heel cups

Heel cups 3D printed using FDM Nylon 12CF

The Challenge

RFR’s first electric vehicle required some improvement to the heel cups of the pedal box, an essential part to the operation of the vehicle. Due to the design of the pedal box, the driver’s feet rest above the throttle and brake mounts to line up with their respective pedals. The heel cups are designed to hold the driver’s legs in position under all driving conditions as well as give the drivers the ability to have accurate pedal inputs for acceleration and braking.

The heel cups are difficult to traditionally manufacture and that is where 3D printing can have an impact. The previous heel cups were manufactured from aluminum sheet metal that was folded and curved into the desired shape and then welded. This method was labour intensive and resulted in errors. Using sheet metal caused ergonomic and mounting limitations due to the shape and forming constraint of metal. 3D printing eliminates these barriers and allows complex geometries to be manufactured quickly and easily.

The Solution

The heel cups were 3D printed using a carbon-filled thermoplastic called FDM Nylon 12CF. The material is comprised of a blend of Nylon 12 resin and chopped carbon fiber. The combination produces one of the strongest thermoplastics in the FDM material portfolio providing one of the most durable and strongest 3D parts. Nylon 12CF is available on the Fortus 450mc and F900 3D printers and can be used to replace parts that are traditionally metal. The team chose to use carbon fiber material due to its strength to weight ratio and durability. It is a material the team is familiar with and has used for previous vehicles.

Heel cup final 3D printed part in Nylon 12CF

Heel cup final 3D printed part in Nylon 12CF

The Outcome

The final product is a strong, high-quality nylon carbon fiber part that has been tumbled to provide a smooth surface finish. 3D printing the heel cups reduces design constraints, allowing the team to design with ergonomic features while reducing part weight and increasing stiffness.

Additive Professional Services

Javelin’s Additive Professional Services team provides expert advice and services to help you scan, design, and make your products. The team has over 25 years of Canadian manufacturing experience and has access to the latest manufacturing equipment and software from Stratasys, Artec 3D, Universal Laser, and SOLIDWORKS.

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Kelly Clancy