Aston Martin Racing used 3-D printing to produce prototypes
for concept and testing of the AMR-One (LMP1
class) race car for the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Dream Cars Come to Life
Direct digital manufacturing speeds the
3Rs—rebuild, restore, and replicate.
Step outside of the high-volume, highly automated
world of production automotive manufacturing
(which is well documented in this issue of
Manufacturing Engineering) for a few minutes,
but not too far out. There’s a fascinating world
populated with car enthusiasts who restore,
rebuild, replicate, and race some of the sleekest cars that
ever rolled out of someone’s garage or specialty build shop.
Their “rides” include muscle cars, replicas, newly built highperformance
NASCAR race cars, or open cockpit road racers.
And they all share one thing in common—they all need fast
turnaround and economical fabrication of components and
September 2011 | www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering 93
the fixturing to produce
them. Some simply
replace original parts;
others upgrade components
to handle a more
powerful engine, customize
the car, or meet new
(AM) technology continues
to grow in importance
as a time-saver and
a budget extender both
for direct digital manufacturing
or by relying on service
bureaus. The RedEye On
Demand digital manufacturing
service has more
Roaring Forties used RedEye On Demand’s direct digital
manufacturing services to build a jig for the fuel line, which
could be used both as a fixture for aligning assemblies and
as a “go/no go” gage for its GT40 ICV kits.
than 100 fused deposition modeling systems manufactured
by its parent company, Stratasys Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN), and
is capable of quick turnaround, processing CAD data directly
into prototypes, fixturing, or final parts.
Fused deposition modeling is an additive-manufacturing
process that creates plastic parts by applying real productiongrade
thermoplastics, the same ones used in injection-molding
processes, in layers from the bottom up. Repeatability,
quality parts appearance, and reliable function are easily
achieved in low-volume production applications for components
Roaring Forties (RF; Thomastown, Victoria, Australia) is
a manufacturer of replica kits for one of the most famous
GT cars, the Ford GT40. The GT40 was Henry Ford II and
Ford Motor Co.’s (Dearborn, MI) entry into road racing in the
1960s. The GT40 name is derived from Grand Tourisme,
which measures 40" (1.02-m) high at the windshield. The
GT40 is justifiably famous for winning the 24 Hours of Le
Mans four successive years from 1966 to 1969.
Roaring Forties provides Individually Constructed Vehi-
94 www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering | September 2011
cle (ICV) kits to enthusiasts who build the cars themselves.
(In Australia, it is illegal for Roaring Forties to assemble the
car.) The GT40 can be built by enthusiasts in four stages
at a cost, according to RF, of about AU $90,000. Roaring
Forties provides every component required
from start to finish in some 160
separate kits for sequential build.
When an emission regulation
changed, Roaring Forties was required
to fit a new engine into the existing
chassis. One of the critical changes
was to the brake and fuel-line harness.
The companies turned to RedEye On
Demand, because of its experience with
its DDM capability for building parts
for development testing and end use.
In this case, RF recognized that the
manufacturing technique could be used
to build a simple jig for the fuel line
which could be used both as a fixture
for aligning assemblies and as a “go/no
The ability to manufacture parts
like jigs, fixtures, and tools on demand
allows processes to be optimized and
implemented in a shorter timeframe.
Parts for fixturing and tooling in the
automotive manufacturing environment
need to withstand the harsh environment
of high temperature and vibration
and be light weight and portable. And,
as in the case of Roaring Forties, when
parts require design changes, fixtures
have to be altered quickly.
When Roaring Forties co-owners
Jonathan Klopsteins and Paul Bottomley
heard that digital manufacturing
technology could be applied to jigs
and fixtures, they gave the go-ahead to
give it a try. RedEye looked at the ABS
prototype of the harness and how it was
manufactured and suggested using
polycarbonate (PC) material, reasoning
that the higher melting point would
allow Roaring Forties to solder brackets
on prior to brazing. Because the jig isn’t stressed during use,
RedEye engineers also suggested building it with a sparse fill,
saving build time, piece cost, and materials.
Fixtures are most frequently used in holding, assembly
September 2011 | www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering 95
and alignment, calibration, test hardware and prototyping.
RedEye On Demand saved the Roaring Forties team time
and money on fabrication and assembly tools. Digital manufacturing
technology reduced fixturing manufacturing time to
days and eliminated machining
with its longer turnaround time
of four to six weeks for machining
and assembling metal,
wood, and other common fixturing
According to Roaring Forties,
once you hand a part to a customer,
there are a multitude of
ways of perceiving quality. Parts
not only need to look good and
part doesn’t mate up with another, it will result in an unhappy
customer—something we strive to avoid,” the co-owners aver.
You might not think about appearance as much as function
when it comes to NASCAR cars, but when Joe Gibbs
Racing (JGR; Huntersville, NC)
needed an enclosure for heater-control
components, appearance and function
were both considered essential.
The challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing
was to produce a part that would act
as an enclosure for the heater control
components to be used in the
cars during races each week. These
components include wires, gages, and
switches. The enclosure itself would
be fit for the purpose at hand,
they need to work well as part
of an overall assembly. “If one
Prototyping produced a split plenum end use part
that was welded together for superior performance
for a restored 1970 Ford Mk1 Capri.
be composed of two pieces. The main
body would include recesses for the
switches and gages with enough room
96 www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering | September 2011
Joe Gibbs Racing chose RedEye On Demand to produce an
enclosure for heater control components for function, appearance,
and fast delivery.
on the inside to route wires and other electrical components.
The second part would be a thin-walled backing plate used to
close the open face of the main body.
The part itself needed to be strong enough for racetrack use
and accurate so that the gages would fit well in the recesses
designed for them. It would replace a crude hand-fabricated
piece that was functional but not visually appealing. In addition,
the old part required fabrication time and CNC time that the
racing team needed to eliminate.
“Our product has to be performancedriven,
but it also has to look good.”
Joe Gibbs Racing, which has its own CNC machine shop,
also has a Stratasys machine, a Fortus 400mc 3-D production
system. It knew the capabilities of direct digital manufacturing,
and had added the machine for quick turnaround on prototyping
parts, especially using thermoplastics like polycarbonate
and polyphenylsulfone. It takes just 15 min from completion
of CAD design to start building the prototype. JGR, however,
September 2011 | www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering 97
determined that its in-house resources would not be adequate
to handle production of the required large number of parts in
the 10 days until the racing season was scheduled to begin.
JGR contacted RedEye On Demand to produce the part,
because of its fast turnaround and choice of materials available
to provide the right strength and surface finish. The final
parts were delivered to JGR within one week without involving
any JGR personnel involvement. The 30 new parts took about
30–35 hr each to produce. Traditional manufacturing might
have taken four to six weeks. The parts, which were made from
ABS black, didn’t require additional surface finish work such as
sanding or painting. This last point was particularly important
from JGR’s point of view. “Our product has to be performancedriven,
but it also has to look good,” explains JGR’s Mark
Bringle. “We can’t have a fast car that looks terrible. It’s not
good for the sponsor. With RedEye’s service, the products were
appealing, the functionality was perfect, but the big thing was
the delivery time.”
In custom restoration, one change by Ivan Viduka to his
1970 Ford Mk1 Capri—replacing a standard engine with a
3.0-L quad cam to compete in the Australian Historic Racing
Series—led to the need to customize other components. A new
high-performance air intake system was needed to ensure top
performance. With no major financial backing, Viduka’s goal
was to reduce costs associated with low-volume tooling and
machining, so he approached RedEye On Demand for their
digital manufacturing services.
“The ability to manufacture parts like jigs,
fixtures, and tools on-demand allows
processes to be optimized and
implemented in a shorter timeframe.”
An initial design concept for the intake plenum was developed
with CAD software and sent to RedEye where a rapid pro-
98 www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering | September 2011
totype was created using polycarbonate (PC) material. Due to
its suitable heat-resistance properties, PC possesses lower yield
strength than aluminum, which would normally be used for this
application. A suitable thickness was applied to the design with
the aid of CAE analysis to ensure the plenum component was
able to resist maximum engine vacuum changes during snap
throttle events and backfire.
No additional machining was required, because all of
the intake plenum features and holes were digitally manufactured
using PC. All mounting holes were heli-coiled for
additional strength so correctly sized fasteners could be
used and sealing of the plenum was maintained. The initial
design was used for development testing and included idle
speed control, PCV, and vacuum bosses ready to go without
addition machining required.
As part of the testing phase, improvements to the design
were identified. In this case, the new design included a second
throttle body unit that increased horsepower while bosses and
ribs added increased structure to the lower mounting surface.
3-D Printing Makes Aston Martin LMP1
Race Car A Winner
Aston Martin Racing (AMR; Oxfordshire, England) used 3-D printing to meet an
aggressive development schedule for the AMR-One (LMP1 class) race car. The
Stratasys Dimension 3D Printer was used to mock up the chassis, driver controls,
and engine, producing prototypes for the concept and testing and accomplishing
the goal in less than six months from Autumn 2010 to the end of February 2011.
AMR selected the Dimension machine for its rapid prototyping capabilities after
seeing the speed and quality of the parts produced for the Prodrive-run rally
team. Having the machine on site helped the race team design, test, and build
a complete car to meet the tight deadline for entry into the Intercontinental Le
Mans Cup (ILMC). AMR-One features a new custom carbon-fiber chassis, an
open cockpit, and a significantly down-sized engine, all of which required testing
during the building process. The Dimension machine was used primarily for
designing and testing the engine parts as well as for mocking up the chassis and
driver controls to meet design regulations of ACO, the Le Mans governing body.
“When we received the final sign-off to build the car for this year’s ILMC, using
rapid prototyping was a no-brainer for us, as we had a tight deadline to meet.
Most of the engine was prototyped on the Dimension machine, which also proved
very useful for the early stages of determining the driver fit for the car,” explains
George Howard-Chappell, AMR technical director. “Without the 3-D printer, we
would not be testing the car today. Following the success with the AMR-One, we
hope to utilize the capabilities of another Stratasys machine to help build and
deliver end-use parts for future cars.” One item being considered is the front wing
splitters used for aerodynamic flow.
Most of the AMR-One (LMP1) class race car including the engine
was prototyped on the Dimension machine.
100 www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering | September 2011
After testing of the second design, the model was updated with
more beneficial changes and a new prototype was created using
sparsely filled ABS to produce casting patterns. A split plenum
design was favored to avoid the need for an additional core
model. The two halves of the plenum
were machined and welded together.
Working with good engineering and the
team at RedEye On Demand, Viduka was
able to develop more than 350 hp [261
kW], giving him enough power to drive
circles around his competition.
The ability of fused deposition modeling
to speed automobile restoration, customization,
and production is nowhere
illustrated better than in the case of a Pit
Viper, a GT500E-inspired Mustang that
started life as a 1968 Fastback. Brook
Phillips and his team at Total Performance
Inc. (Wichita, KS) began the
process by selecting 3-D scanning and
the fused deposition modeling technology
for nine components: two pair of side
scoops, two hood scoops, front grill, rear
bumper, and center console. The goal
was, of course, perfection in fit, finish,
and symmetry. To achieve the 1/16"
(1.58-mm) precision and consistent
flush and gap that Phillips wanted, he
turned to Realadi Inc. for TPI reverse engineering
and 3-D scanning tools and to
Stratasys for rapid prototyping and direct
Through its RedEye On Demand
service group, Stratasys built onequarter
scale and full-size models and
manufactured the finished parts for
the Pit Viper. The process showed that
restoring vehicles no longer needs to
be a laborious process. Phillips and his team found that the
procedure can be accelerated by the DDM technology, saving
both time and money, while meeting critical symmetry and fit
Want More Information?
RedEye On Demand, go to
or telephone 866-882-6934.
September 2011 | www.sme.org/manufacturingengineering 101