Fast 3D printed auto parts for Nascar racing teams made with Stratasys FDM systems.
RedEye delivers NASCAR-grade auto components in record time
Joe Gibbs is a world-class name in racing, currently fielding three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams and two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams. When they needed racing parts tough enough to withstand competition and attractive enough to do their team’s sponsors proud, they came to RedEye. Like everything in the NASCAR world, speed was of the essence. The deadline was the start of the racing season, just 10 days away.
Executives at Joe Gibbs Racing know something about speed. So when they needed a new enclosure for heater control components in a hurry, they turned to RedEye to supplement their in-house Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) equipment.
Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, currently fielding three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams and a driver development program that includes two full-time NASCAR East Series teams. Its engineers work diligently to design and develop parts that will enhance the performance of all its cars.
““We work on getting our concepts to our cars as quickly as possible,” said Mark Bringle, Technical Sponsor Manager. “We have 40 engineers with good ideas and 25 CNCs operating 20 hours a day, five and six days a week. Our own Stratasys FDM equipment stays busy 24/7 with research and development projects.”
Racing season creates deadline for new part.
The challenge before Bringle 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, gauges and switches. The enclosure itself would be composed of two pieces. The main body would include recesses for the switches and gauges, with enough room 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 for racetrack use and accurate so the gauges would fit well in the recesses designed for them,” said Bringle. 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.
When it became clear that their in-house resources would not be adequate to handle the production, Bringle contacted RedEye for help. “We needed a vendor that could provide a fast turnaround on a large number of parts, while using a material that provided strength and a good surface finish right out of the machine,” Bringle said. “We decided to go with RedEye because of its wide array of material choices and its ability to produce parts quickly.”
The deadline, in this case, was the start of the racing season, just 10 days away.
Return on investment exceeds expectations.
“RedEye produced the entire batch of parts before the deadline,” said Bringle. “The final parts were delivered to our shop within one week, which was five to seven days faster than required. The quality was great and met the expectations of the teams. There was no additional surface finish work (such as sanding or painting) needed on the parts, which were made from ABS black.”
The 30 new parts, each of which took about 30 to 35 hours to build, required no person hours from the racing team. “It was a perfect situation,” said Bringle. “We eliminated both fabrication time and CNC time.” As a result, Joe Gibbs Racing’s in-house FDM equipment was able to focus on producing more prototypes for upcoming races.
“We assembled a lot of instrumentation into the parts that RedEye made,” said Bringle. “We wanted what we were going to run with through the year to be there at the first of the season. We probably could have used other products, but they wouldn’t have had the updated instrumentation on them, and we didn’t want to rebuild a crude revision.”
“When our engineers come up with something, they want it now,” he said. “Having key partners like RedEye is comforting, knowing that at any time we experience a scheduling overload, we have a great partner ready and equipped to handle our projects quickly and efficiently, and with the ability to manufacture quality parts every time.”
“Our product has to be performance-driven, but it also has to look good,” explained Bringle. “We can’t have a fast car that looks terrible. It is not good for the sponsor. With RedEye’s service, the products were appealing, the functionality was perfect, but the big thing was delivery time. I can’t believe they got the products out here so quickly. That was a big deal! Traditional manufacturing might have taken four to six weeks. We didn’t want to wait that long for something that could have made us faster sooner. A company with that quick of a turnaround caught our attention.”
“The parts are beautiful,” he added. “RedEye did a great job. Everything came out exactly as needed in a very timely manner. I actually got teary eyed when I opened the box,” he laughed.