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How Ferrari used 3D printing to develop the 499P wheel

Considering the "P" is for prototype, many other parts of the GT hypercar are also likely to be 3D printed

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499P is the name of the new Le Mans Hypercar with which Ferrari will tackle the FIA WEC in the top class from 2023, a name evoking the history of the Prancing Horse manufacturer. It marks the return of Ferrari to Les Mans 50 years after its last race. Considering the P in the name stands for prototype, many of the car’s parts – which underwent countless hours of wind gallery testing – are likely to have been 3D printed. But one we know for sure: the steering wheel was multi-iteratively prototyped using AM. Given Ferrari’s well-known secrecy on its us of AM, we’ll take it.

The four-wheel drive prototype complies with the technical regulations and requirements of the hybrid-engined Le Mans Hypercar class, delivering a maximum power of 500 kW to the wheels and with a minimum weight of no less than 1,030 kilos. In defining the 499P, the company has drawn on the vast resources of technical, professional and human excellence that epitomize the Maranello marque, entrusting the management to Attività Sportive GT, under the direction of Antonello Coletta and the technical supervision of Ferdinando Cannizzo, head of the department in charge of engineering and development of Sports and GT racing cars.

How Ferrari used 3D printing to develop the 499P wheel. Many other parts of the GT hypercar are also likely to be 3D printed

But the steering wheel is one of the most complex elements in the entire car. It has over 500 components and requires extensive development. Bénédicte Prioul, Vehicle Control Engineer, Ferrari Competizioni GT, explained the entire process in this video on the Ferrari 499P official website. “The story of the steering wheel for the 499P started from the wheel from the 296 GT3,” Prioul explained. “And we had to reimagine everything, starting from the 3D design to the layout and the functions and electronics behind it all. When we move to the 499P we had to integrate the dash in the steering wheel […] developing a steering wheel like this takes between a year and a year and a half. And the development is always ongoing.”

Built on an all-new carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, the Ferrari 499P features solutions that represent the cutting edge of motorsport technology. The geometry of the double wishbone, push-rod-type suspension results in outstanding qualities of damping stiffness, the benefits of which are evident at both maximum velocity as well as in cornering.

How Ferrari used 3D printing to develop the 499P wheel. Many other parts of the GT hypercar are also likely to be 3D printed

The electronics systems are developed from and further innovate upon the experience honed in the world of GT racing. No less sophisticated is the braking system, which integrates a brake-by-wire system necessary to allow the recovery of kinetic energy by the front electric axle under braking. The system has been developed to combine precision and speed of response with reliability and durability, complementary aspects that are one of the keys to success in endurance racing.

The electric front axle uses energy recovered while braking, storing it in the high-voltage battery before transmitting torque to the front wheels when a certain speed is attained, thus helping boost the performance on the tracks scheduled to host the 2023 calendar.

How Ferrari used 3D printing to develop the 499P wheel. Many other parts of the GT hypercar are also likely to be 3D printed

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