New Seat Leon Competicion uses 3D-printed parts
Spanish firm’s race car uses advanced technology to improve fuel economy, stability and safety.
The new Seat Leon Cupra Competicion has been revealed, boasting 3D-printed parts that allow the team to make strides in development more quickly.
The Spanish firm says it has a team of engineers using ‘state-of-the-art multi-jet fusion technology’ to build door mirrors, air intakes, cooling intakes, the steering wheel control module and air vents.
It claims the process helps to reduce fuel consumption, improves stability, speed and safety. Details of exactly how it does this are understandably not forthcoming in an industry where small performance gains can make a huge difference on track. However, it’s likely the 3D-printed construction of each part means they’re lighter than traditional equivalents, while more minute details that improve airflow, for example, can easily be designed in.
The 3D printing process is notoriously slow, with each part taking around 20 hours to complete, but Seat says it can build six of each object at a time with different designs, allowing it to test multiple variants. Once produced, the parts are tested in a wind tunnel where they face gusts of up to 180mph, before being trialled on track on the real car.
Xavi Serra, head of technical development at Cupra Racing, said: “The main goal is to have a lot of parts in a short time. We can quickly test a wide variety of designs and furthermore, this technology enables us to react swiftly to any changes in the design process.
“The bigger the variety of parts we can test in this facility, the better. It enables us to make much faster progress. The results were excellent, and some were even surprising, because we were looking to push the material to its limits.
“This technology is and will continue to be key in countless fields to make the most complex ideas a reality.”
The 3D printing process is used to create a three-dimensional object by adding material layer by layer based on a computer design model. Because of this process, complex designs can be created without the need to join multiple parts together, meaning they’re usually lighter than equivalents with more scope for intricate design details to be added.
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