Uniformity Labs, Fremont, California, USA, reports that it has successfully designed and additively manufactured a roll cage for use in a solar-powered race car. Built from its ultra-low porosity AlSi10Mg aluminium alloy powder, Uniformity Labs optimised the component for an entrant in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, an international event for solar-powered cars driving 3000 kilometres through the Australian outback.
The roll cage was built in-house using an SLM 280 2.0 Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) machine from SLM Solutions. Additive Manufacturing enabled the automotive part to be produced with a 30 um layer thickness, achieving an excellent surface finish with best-in-class mechanical properties. It also delivered the added benefit of a productivity level equal to that of a 60 um layer thickness build.
Uniformity Labs explains that the car engineering team used topological optimisation techniques to design the part to ensure strength while reducing material usage and weight. The cost and material performance were critical factors, so they replaced carbon fibre with an AM part made from Uniformity’s AlSi10Mg powder.
“This is an excellent example of how our innovation can significantly improve part design using our advanced powders and modern AM techniques,” stated Adam Hopkins, founder and CEO of Uniformity Labs. “Our ultra-low porosity AlSi10Mg and print processes allowed the car development team to create a better part quickly, cheaply, and optimised for the necessary weight and safety parameters.”
He added, “It’s easy to see how the processes used, and benefits afforded to the roll-cage production can apply to the creation of complex parts for use in mainstream industries such as aviation, auto, and consumer electronics. That’s what our technology is all about.”