Stratasys Ltd., a company that has produced the first-ever 3D printed parts for the Next Gen cars, has been named a NASCAR Competition Partner.
Stratasys and NASCAR began working together last fall when testing a cooling device for drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It resulted in the windshield air ducts that have been in all cars since the beginning of the season and debuted in the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum.
NASCAR partnered with Stratasys because of the company’s ability to produce the parts in high volume and being cost-effective. The parts are manufactured at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing in Belton, Texas, on Stratasys H350 3D printers.
“It is exciting to see the evolution of how NASCAR has used additive manufacturing across their vehicles,” said Pat Carey, senior vice president of strategic growth for Stratasys. “We’ve helped them move from 3D printed prototypes to end-use production parts on their high-performance race cars. We are honored to be named a NASCAR Performance Partner and to provide all teams with the first end-use production parts for their Next Gen cars.
“This partnership is a natural extension of the relationship we’ve built over nearly 20 years with NASCAR teams like Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing. These teams have been quick to adopt cutting-edge technologies to enhance their car designs and provide performance advantages, and now we’re happy to support the expansion to all NASCAR Next Gen cars.”
With a sealed underbody and exhaust coming out both sides of the car, cockpit temperature was a big topic of discussion last year as drivers began getting more and more time testing the Next Gen car. Drivers reported it was too hot inside the car, and NASCAR worked through different ideas to find a solution, such as a duct in the front and cutting slits in the back windshield. Even the chassis was becoming too hot to touch.
With the front 3D air duct, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell (pictured above) told a handful of media members who saw the Stratasys 3D windshield duct last week that he’s noticed an immediate difference in being more comfortable and cooler in the car.
“It was a crazy difference,” Bell said. “I ran the car in Bristol in August of last year and we did not have the air ducts, and it was super hot inside the car. It was much hotter than last year’s car. Once they added the air duct and cut the rear glass open, those two changes made this car, so far, cooler than last year’s car. It’s been a huge, huge transition period.”
NASCAR also designed and 3D printed an underside NACA duct for engine cooling at the RD Center on a Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer. The part is in the middle of the sealed underbody of the Next Gen car, which could be seen when Chris Buescher flipped in the Coca-Cola 600.
“The Next Gen car could not have been completed without the collaboration with NASCAR Performance Partners like Stratasys and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing,” said John Probst, senior vice president of racing innovation at NASCAR. “During testing, we realized we needed an additive manufacturing solution that could withstand high temperatures and needed the parts delivered quickly. We approached Stratasys Direct, and they delivered not only as a supplier but as a consultant on this project.
“They provided us with strategic direction on design, materials, and the right additive manufacturing technologies to use to create the highest performance parts for the Next Gen cars.”