August 20, 2022

3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has been named an official 3D printing partner of Toyota Racing Development (TRD), the in-house tuning division of automotive company Toyota.

Already in its new role, Stratasys has helped TRD develop several end-use 3D printed parts for the Toyota GR86, a sub-£30,000 production vehicle set to be raced in the single-make GR Cup series. By using its partner’s technologies, TRD claims to have succeeded in accelerating the R&D of these parts, while considerably reducing their production cost.

“Additive manufacturing has allowed us to quickly iterate, design and create parts for our race vehicles, in a way that would have been significantly more expensive or labor intensive with traditional manufacturing methods” , explains David Wilson, president of TRD. “By partnering with Stratasys, we are able to advance our manufacturing practices beyond what is currently possible and fully exploit the possibilities of additive manufacturing for production parts.”

GR86 racing car to Toyota’s GR Cup specifications. Image via Toyota.

Toyota’s AM Achievements: A Brief History

Based in Japan’s Aichi prefecture, Toyota is a multinational automaker that, after selling more than 9.6 million vehicles in 2021, remains one of the largest in the world. As you’d expect, this figure incorporates sales of many different makes and models, many of which will have been made through traditional production processes.

However, in recent years, Toyota has also shown a growing interest in 3D printing, not only as a means of prototyping, but also for manufacturing end-use parts for its production cars. As early as 2015, the company worked with Materialize to develop an ultra-light 3D printed car seat, before unveiling a new ‘uBox’ concept car that changes shape later in the year, complete with customizable printed trim.

These innovations were followed by new investments in research, including a partnership with DSM, in which Toyota co-developed Somos Taurus, a material with a heat deflection temperature of 95°C suitable for automobiles. The company also put its name to the University of Waterloo’s 3D printing wing, following a $2.1 million (CAD) donation it made to the institution. , to advance its R&D.

Since then, Toyota has (from what it has said publicly) appeared to be expanding its adoption of 3D printing, beginning to integrate the technology into its race cars. In its Toyota Motorsport division, for example, the company has not only unveiled plans to develop a new lightweight automotive material, but has partnered with 3D Systems to create advanced technologies with high-end racing applications.

Close up of one of the modifications TRD made to the Cup Series GR86.  Image via Toyota.
Close up of one of the modifications TRD made to the Cup Series GR86. Image via Toyota.

Prepare for the GR Cup

Toyota’s latest foray into the world of additive manufacturing has seen its TRD division appoint Stratasys as its new official 3D printing partner. Over the past 43 years, TRD has won championships in motorsports ranging from the NASCAR’s Cup Series to the NHRA Funny Car Drag Race, establishing it as a trusted tuning body with significant motorsports expertise.

As well as working to improve the performance of Toyota’s street cars, the organization is also responsible for supporting its motor racing exploits, which is why it was commissioned to help rebuild the GR86. Powered by a 2.4-litre boxer engine, the 231hp vehicle is tuned by TRD for the GR Cup, a 14-race, affordability-focused amateur racing series set to launch next year in the States. -United.

In order to prototype and produce the necessary modifications, including a 12CF GR86 nylon hood vent, as well as various other parts for its vehicle portfolio, the Toyota team turned to Fortus 450mc, F370 and F370CR 3D printers. at Stratasys facilities in North Carolina. and California, where they will be manufactured before shipping.

Although TRD has been a long-time Stratasys Direct customer, it now says it also plans to leverage the services of its partners to produce PA11 clamps for the GR86, which will debut, alongside various other parts, at of the first race of the GR Cup. in 2023.

“This new partnership represents an important moment in the evolution of additive manufacturing for high-performance racing applications,” added Pat Carey, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Stratasys. “We will partner with TRD to support their efforts as they adopt, prove and integrate additive manufacturing into their production as a prototyping, tooling and end-use parts solution for GR86 and TRD custom parts as well. .”

The Stratasys Fortus 450mc offers models in nine production-grade materials that can be used in real-world manufacturing applications.  Photo via Javelin Technologies.
The Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer. Photo via Javelin Technologies.

The end market for 3D printing in motorsport

As impressive as TRD’s racing resume is, it’s not the only auto racing team to increase its adoption of 3D printing for end-use components. Late last month, it was revealed that Stratasys technologies would also be used to 3D print parts of NASCAR’s Next Gen race cars, including the vehicles’ ventilation systems.

Meanwhile, in MotoGP, Ducati Lenovo has started working with Roboze to 3D print the fairing and bike armor for its 2022 challenger, as part of a new technical partnership. By producing these aerodynamic parts using additive manufacturing, the team reportedly achieved improvements in both quality and timeliness.

Even at the pinnacle of single-seater motor racing, in Formula 1, teams up and down the grid continue to embrace the technology. Due to the competitive nature of the sport, its engineers can be reluctant to share their latest innovations, but in an interview with 3D Printing Industry, Pat Warner recently revealed that up to 70% of the bodywork of the BWT Alpine F1 car is prototyped using 3D printing. .

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Featured image shows the Toyota GR Cup GR86 racing car. Image via Toyota.