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Stewart-Haas Racing extends partnership with 3D Systems

Using 3D printing to quickly iterate and test design structural designs for the new 2024 NASCAR Ford Mustang Dark Horse race car

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Stewart-Haas Racing has partnered with 3D Systems, a leading 3D printing company, to determine the best-performing aerodynamic shape for the new 2024 NASCAR Ford Mustang Dark Horse through an innovative approach to testing hundreds of different body panel shapes in a highly efficient way.

3D Systems’ SLA machines and 3D Sprint software, in combination with the development process used by the two companies, yielded a race car body for the Ford Mustang Dark Horse race car that combines the aesthetics of a 2024 production car with the aerodynamic performance of the Ford team’s race cars to win races and a NASCAR Cup Series championship.

To submit a new race car body shape, the Ford race teams needed to meet specific aerodynamic coefficient specifications as determined by NASCAR. This is ideally achieved during a full-scale wind tunnel test of the car body being submitted, which can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Stewart-Haas Racing found a more efficient solution that allows them to test dozens of different body panel shapes during each test session by partnering with 3D Systems.

Stewart-Haas Racing extends partnership with 3D Systems - developing the new 2024 NASCAR Ford Mustang Dark Horse race car.

Stewart-Haas Racing CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysts designed multiple body panel shape concepts using CAD software to find which shapes will potentially improve the aerodynamics of the car. They then created a virtual wind tunnel to test the coefficients of the surface models, leaving the most favorable concepts to be created for testing.

The 3D printing technician orients the CAD models in 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software to position them the way they need to be printed. The orientation can be adjusted to minimize the printing time, maximize the printing quality, and maximize part quantity per build platform. The 3D Systems’ 3D Sprint software is intuitive to use and enables the technician to quickly set up the CAD models to be printed.

After the chosen parts have been printed on 3D Systems’ ProX 800, can be fastened to the sub-structure of the full-scale car. As the car is being tested in the wind tunnel, additional 3D printed parts may be added or removed from the car to test the various concepts. Each ‘run’ represents a concept being tested, and the resulting aerodynamic coefficients are recorded and analyzed – allowing the aerodynamic engineers to optimize the shape of the car’s body, and ultimately achieving the best possible aerodynamic performance.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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