Is this the model of the future?

05 September 2014
imports_CCGB_first_62308.jpg Is this the model of the future?
3D printing is becoming more cost effective for manufacturers and is beginning to make an impact in model collecting. ...
Is this the model of the future? Images
Yesterday, during the 3D Print Show at Old Billingsgate in the City of London, Strakka Racing displayed its challenger for the 2015 World Endurance Championship, including the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, which has been designed with the help of 3D printing.

Strakka is at the cutting edge of high performance race car design and, in association with Dome Cars, has been developing the Japanese manufacturer's brand new Dome S103 chassis ahead of its proposed race début at the 6 Hours of São Paulo in Brazil at the end of November this year. The racing team's use of Stratasys 3D printing touches all areas of its parts production process; from wind-tunnel testing of scale models to fully functioning prototypes, as well as end-use parts fitted directly to the car.

The model shown here is 1/24 scale, being produced entirely on a 3D printer and just goes to show how close we could be to a new method of producing entire models. The finish is excellent, with crisp edges and some truly fine detail. As production woes increase in China, although this type of manufacture isn't yet cost effective to replace large runs, 3D printing could certainly be the way forward in the not too distant future for smaller manufacturers. We have already seen 3D printed accessories come to market in the farm models sector, so naturally this trend will begin to permeate other areas very soon.

To illustrate how versatile 3D printing can be, there are even components created using this method on the actual race car, part of the dashboard for example, as pictured. The brake ducts were all produced to the prototype stage using 3D printing too, prior to then being created in carbon fibre to go on the car as it is cheaper to develop and change the design of a component this way.

The 3D Print Show offered a fantastic glimpse into how far the possibilities could go, with potentially huge implications for the model collecting market. Different methods are already available using an interesting variety of materials to create the finished article, from the most-popular melted plastic filament to even using standard photo copy paper! To find out more about the potential future of modelling, there will be a report from the show in the December issue of Diecast Collector, on sale 3rd November.

3D printed model of Strakka Racing's Dome S103 at 1/24 scale.

Finished 3D printed dashboard, as installed in the race car cockpit (seen fitted just to the right of the steering wheel).

Brake cooling duct prototypes were finalised and printed in 3D to test fit prior to creating in carbon fibre.

The real car! Dome's new S103 has been developed with Strakka Racing using Stratasys 3D printing.

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