Minnesota-headquartered Stratasys specializes in 3D printing, and their leading core technologies within the additive manufacturing industry has seen them work with over 18,000 customers. Among the most significant who have benefited include Airbus, Boeing, and most recently McLaren Racing, one of the world’s iconic Formula One racing teams.
The two core technologies that have made Stratasys a market leader are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and PolyJet. FDM works by extruding durable thermoplastic materials layer-by-layer to create a part that is able to be used for applications ranging from prototyping, tooling, to production parts. PolyJet blends different materials droplet by droplet to create very beautiful, colorful, complex parts that are ideal for advanced prototyping applications.
McLaren Racing had signed a 4 year deal with Stratasys in January of last year, where they were looking to speed up operations that translated to higher performance on the track with the suite of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions provided by the latter.
One example cited by Scott Sevcik, vice president of Stratasys manufacturing solutions business unit, was the development of steering wheels of F1 cars.
A typical steering wheel would usually incorporate a lot of different controls, buttons, and knobs. By utilizing 3D printing technologies, a steering wheel could be 3D printed to demonstrate the look and feel while gathering feedback from drivers. The short turnaround time accrued from the use of 3D printing allowed a final design to be made rapidly, before moving to the production stage without incurring many iterations.
In the long term, McLaren Racing is looking forward to shaving more time off in the manufacturing process using 3D printing. While just seconds in an assembly process will be saved in some cases be it producing tools or parts that go directly on a car, McLaren Racing projects that those seconds could translate to trimming down on weeks and months of labor in this high volume industry.