SLS is an additive manufacturing technique that can be used to test the form, fit/snap-fit and function of highly detailed parts with a smooth finish. It supports light weight parts that can be used for prototyping a wide range of products, with special focus on the functionality.
When Orion Racing Student Team from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, designed a streamlined onion-shaped airbox for a Formula One car, they were told it was too complex to be built. They approached Imaginarium with a looming deadling for their Formula Student Racing Event.
Imaginarium decided up on the SLS technology as the best AM technique to develop the airbox. Which meant that the air intake was manufactured as a single piece rather than multiple pieces glued-together, giving it the exact functionality as intended. Also since SLS models are durable and perform well under high temperature and pressure, the airbox could be used as a direct end-use part, thus saving very precious time for the students.
The print was carried out in Sinterstation HiQ HS SLS System by 3D Systems, which boasts of one of the largest printbed available in SLS technology (300x280x420 mm). The material used was PA12 Nylon, a durable engineering plastic with balanced mechanical properties and fine-feature surface resolution. It is good for enclosures that require high stiffness. Owing to it's unique set of properties, PA 12 was the perfect choice to test the form. fit and function of the air intake manifold, which allowed the students to directly use the 3D printed part in their car.
Note: Imaginarium has upgraded it's offerings to include industry grade PA6 (Glass Filled 20%) Nylon which boasts of higher temperature resistance (HDT upto 200° Celsius) and improved tensile strength, equivalent to injection moulded PA6 parts.