The Application of Additive Manufacturing to Motorsport Brakes
In the Automotive sector, Motorsport has long provided the seed for new product developments that are ultimately modified and industrialised for volume manufacture. This is certainly the case with developments in braking where the Automotive sector is taking the lead from tools and products designed for Motorsport to drive light weighting. Alcon designs and manufactures brakes for high performance road cars, all forms of premium motorsport and armoured and military vehicles. Looking at the current start of art in Motorsport brake design, demonstrates how the use of Topology Optimisation has been adopted, for over 10 years, to minimise weight whilst maintaining the performance characteristics of the product. Indeed this optimisation methodology has now also been applied to volume casting processes for application on high performance road cars. Looking forward, the desire for reducing weight in motorsport continues, winning is about combining small improvements to gain an advantage.
Additive manufacturing has the potential to enable the next phase of development in Motorsport brakes, however for safety critical components the implementation is not trivial. Many examples of the use of additive manufacturing to optimise a component or assembly often takes benefit from implementing optimisation tools at the same time as the process change. With topology optimisation being a core tool for motorsport brake design, the benefits inherent in additive manufacturing are investigated and experience of learning a new set of design for manufacture constraints, rather than complete design freedom, are shared. There is much work to do to fully realise the benefits of additive manufacturing in such a safety critical application, but there are potential benefits.
Andy Smith is a Chartered Engineer with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Loughborough University and a strong background in simulation, measurement and correlation of the structural behaviour of mechanical systems. After a period working in Automotive braking R&D with large Tier 1’s he joined Alcon in 2005 and now heads up the design and development activities for the group. During his time at Alcon, Andy has led the introduction and development of Topology Optimisation for brake design to support the increasing demands of Motorsport and Automotive for light weighting. Now that Topology Optimisation is well established within the business using traditional manufacturing methods, Andy has been leading Alcon’s development of brake component design for Additive Manufacturing.
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