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Every year, engineering students from around the world come together to compete with their own uniquely designed off-roading vehicles. They are judged in multiple events that test the suspension, maneuverability, endurance and acceleration of their vehicles.
For the past decade, students at Olin College of Engineering have participated in Baja SAE®. Baja is an off-roading vehicle competition that takes place across the United States. To challenge the students’ design, planning and manufacturing skills, all participants start with a ten-horsepower Intek Model 19 engine graciously donated by Briggs & Stratton Corporation. It’s up to the students to finance the rest of the project, as well as design, build, test, promote and race their vehicle within the competition’s rules.
In the past, the Olin College Baja Fabrication Team was unable to finish many of these events due to their vehicle’s CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) overheating. The CVT allows the engine to always be putting out maximum power.
What’s the solution? Implementing a cooling system that lowers the CVTs operational temperature. On a strict timeline and budget, they decided to 3D print a unique impeller that pushes air over the CVT to cool it on Markforged Mark Two 3D printer.
The impeller was printed with Onyx material. Onyx is a beautiful black filament made from combining tough nylon with micro-carbon reinforcement. It gives you stiff and dimensionally stable parts with twice the strength of other 3D printed plastics. Onyx parts also have a high quality surface finish and high heat tolerance, perfect for cooling the CVT!
“Onyx is a great material for the impeller because it’s stiffer, lighter and has a higher heat resistance. With Onyx, we were able to hit print and then take the finished impeller straight from the build plate to the car,” explains Lindsey Andrade, design and fabrication lead on the Olin College Baja Fabrication Team.
When they took their new vehicle to competition in 2016, they performed better than they had in the past 10 years! By incorporating 3D printing into their development cycle, they were able to print durable, structural parts quickly versus spending hours machining with expensive materials.