3D Systems advanced digital manufacturing SLA (stereolithography) technology has helped designers at Jaguar Racing to develop a head and neck support system (HANS) in record time and tailored exactly to the individual comfort requirements of each of its Formula 1 drivers.
The head and neck support system is a new compulsory safety feature introduced by the FIA for the 2003 Formula 1 season. Although off-the-shelf yoke and collar systems already exist and are in use by other race series, for example CART in the US, they have been generally criticised by F1 drivers for not being very comfortable.
The designers at Jaguar Racing therefore were faced with the challenge of developing a HANS system that could meet a Formula One team’s specific requirements, such as near horizontal driver position, while ensuring the most comfortable fit possible for each driver. Moreover, a major constraint was the limited availability of time with each driver requiring a ‘right first time’ approach.
3D Systems solid imaging technology allowed the team to produce accurate models directly from CAD data captured from individual driver positions and torso dimensions, to help develop a HANS system that was more sympathetic to each driver’s individual build. Another major advantage of using 3D Systems technology was the speed, tantamount to a single weekend, at which prototype collars could be produced.
Commenting on the benefits of using SLA technology over traditional modelling techniques, Dave Pitchforth, managing director, Jaguar Racing said: "We only had a very short window of opportunity between gathering individual driver data, developing our design and then testing the system. Using 3D Systems SLA machines we were able to directly manufacture numerous prototype models within the 48 hours available, allowing us to test many different design iterations in order to optimise driver comfort."
Mr Pitchforth continued: "In addition, the complicated amorphous shape of the HANS system would have required us to use expensive tooling if we had used traditional modelling techniques and time that we simply didn’t have, which would have resulted in increased development costs."
Mr Pitchforth concluded: "In the event that we do discover that under actual race conditions our HANS system needs further fine tuning, we will be able to directly manufacture new prototype models for testing in between races. From the driver’s point of view this is the real benefit of using 3D Systems SLA technology. Previously, we simply wouldn’t have been able to achieve this turnaround; such is the speed of the process, which does in hours what traditionally would have taken months."
The Jaguar Racing team currently has two 3D Systems’ SLA 5000 machines, which are used for aerodynamic testing developments, at the company’s design centre in Tilbrook, Milton Keynes.Published 12 April 2003