Bloodhound SSC, a project that aims to break the world land speed record with a car powered by a jet engine and a rocket, took centre stage this week at TCT live in Birmingham.
Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a cutting edge technique that is set to revolutionise manufacturing. Fitting that it’s being showcased on the worlds ultimate racing car – a fusion of cutting edge science and engineering.
AM combines the worlds of art, technology and engineering, allowing for free thinking design with out the constraints of traditional manufacturing. It works by depositing thin layers of a powdered material, be it plastics or metals and firing an energy source (laser, electron beam, etc) at them to fuse the particles together, an object is then built up layer by layer. One key bonus of using this technology is the reduction in waste material. To machine a component from a billet of Aluminium can produce 80% waste. The equivalent produced using AM creates just 6% and removes the energy hungry process of manufacturing the billet.
Bloodhound engineers are already designing with AM in mind and looking to utilise it in many crucial components, including: the steering wheel, the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) gearbox housing, the high load parachute strop brackets and the bolt fixtures that will hold the carbon fibre front end to the metallic rear chassis.
The steering wheel forms the vital contact point between driver Captain Andy Green and the Hakskeen Pan streaking below him at 3.6 seconds per mile. The grips on the W shaped wheel will be specially moulded to his hands and manufactured from powdered Titanium. There is no way this complex hollow design could be produced in one piece using conventional manufacturing methods. The prototypes displayed at the show were manufactured from powdered nylon by Materalise and demonstrate the limitless design possibilities that additive manufacturing opens up.
In order to develop a robust steering wheel design, concepts are being crowd sourced from dozens of product design students at the University of Lancaster. BLOODHOUND’s Dan Johns set them the challenge to think creatively about a steering wheel solution that had no manufacturing constraints, and they responded with innovative designs that the BLOODHOUND engineers are incorporating into the final component.
Although BLOODHOUND is powered by an EJ200 Eurofighter jet engine and a custom built Falcon hybrid rocket, it requires a gearbox to control the 750 bhp from an Auxiliary Power Unit. Cosworth’s CA2010 F1 engine is used drive the hydraulics and the pump that delivers one tonne of Oxidiser into the Falcon hybrid rocket in just 17 seconds. The CA2010 F1 engine produces full power at a staggering 18,000 rpm, about three times faster than a regular car. This needs to be stepped down to the optimal speed of 10,000 rpm for the Oxidiser pump, so a custom gearbox has been developed using Xtrac gears, AP Racing clutch and gearbox hydraulics. “We wanted to start validating the use of Titanium Additive Manufacturing on a non-safety critical component, to build our confidence towards to using the technology on more critical pieces,” said Materials and Process Engineer Dan Johns, “The gearbox casing was successfully manufactured by Arcam and can be seen here on our stand.”
BLOODHOUND is proud to announce signing a partnership with Bits from Bytes who join the team as a Product sponsor to the Education programme. They are providing seven 3D printers for use in the national BLOODHOUND Education Centres and to demonstrate at events. Already, in collaboration with Bath University, BLOODHOUND has hosted the UKs first advanced industrial design and manufacture course for a group of apprentices, featuring AM technology. The students worked through high-end design and manufacture projects which can only be achieved using AM.