“Soluble cores allow me to design and make parts that I previously wouldn’t have considered because of the difficulty involved in creating them.”
— Chris Lyew, Lead Mechanical Engineer, Champion Motorsport
Champion Motorsport has established a prominent presence in the realm of auto racing, marked by notable achievements such as a triumph at the renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans and a remarkable streak of five consecutive championships in the American Le Mans Series LMP1 category. Initially operating as a private team, they later became a factory team under Audi Sport North America, securing three of those championships. Over the past decade, the company has effectively utilized the technology they developed, refined, and validated on the race track to create an exceptionally successful range of performance products specifically tailored for Porsche vehicles.
One exemplary product from their lineup is the carbon fiber turbo inlet duct designed for the Porsche 997 Turbo. By utilizing carbon fiber in the construction of the duct, Champion Motorsport managed to expand the interior dimensions while adhering to the factory specifications for the outer diameter. As a result, the duct enables superior airflow, ultimately leading to enhanced engine performance. Furthermore, the redesigned part is lighter than its original counterpart, further contributing to the overall performance improvements.
According to Chris Lyew, the lead mechanical engineer at Champion Motorsport, the production of intricate composite components, like the turbo inlet duct, presents significant challenges. The performance of the vehicle relies on a seamless internal surface, while customers expect an aesthetically pleasing exterior. Additionally, the part must possess exceptional strength to endure the lifespan of the vehicle.
Conventional methods of tooling make it nearly impossible to achieve a smooth finish on both the interior and exterior surfaces of tubular composite components. When the part is molded as a single piece, the interior core can become trapped within the tube unless a sacrificial sand core or similar material that can be washed away is used. Another approach involves molding the tube in two separate halves, which then need to be bonded together post-molding. However, this method results in a part that is not as robust as one constructed in a single piece. Moreover, in both cases, only one side of the part attains a satisfactory surface finish.
Over time, Champion Motorsport experimented with various techniques to fabricate inlet ducts but struggled to achieve a seam-free part with high-quality surface finishes on both the inner and outer surfaces.
Traditionally, Champion Motorsport utilized its Fortus® 3D Production System to produce conceptual and functional prototypes during the design phase. Subsequently, they discovered that employing this system to manufacture FDM soluble cores offered an ideal solution for producing their high-performance turbo inlet ducts, along with several other tubes and pipes for Porsche engines.
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