Ferrari is looking at using 3D printed parts in the development of its new engine it will use in the 2017 Formula 1 season.
According to Motorsport.com, Ferrari’s new engine design entails using a new ‘micro injector’ developed by Magneti Marelli that enables more even combustion while also using less fuel. The drawback, however, is engine temperatures will rise significantly and the cylinder chamber will be under a significant amount of pressure (perhaps as high as 400 bar), which may have an adverse affect on reliability.
The solution for the potential reliability problems the new micro-injectors may pose lies in a specially designed 3D-printed piston. Ferrari wants to make the pistons out of an alloy that is more robust than aluminum but weighs less than steel and 3D printing, which allows engineers to apply materials one thin layer at a time, may enable them to do so.
In overly simplified terms, Ferrari wants to use 3D printing to make its piston as it allows them to use honeycomb-design surface layers. The honeycomb design makes for a stronger component but uses less material, allowing for a stronger metal like steel to be used whilst also keeping weight down.
If perfected, Ferrari’s new 3D-printed piston may give them a huge advantage over the competition come time for the Australian Grand Prix. It’s doubtful Ferrari is the only F1 team exploring relatively new and increasingly popular 3D printing technologies in the development of their car, however.