Fremont, Calif.-based additive manufacturing company Uniformity Labs has taken solar-powered car racing to the next level with its new AlSi10Mg aluminum alloy powder.
The material has been shown to deliver increased throughput with ultralow porosity, yielding lightweight yet strong components.
One of the greatest limiting factors of solar car racing is that the vehicles are by definition limited to one energy source: the sun, which comes with intermittent reliability, and battery packs can be heavy, creating an efficiency conundrum. For this reason, vehicle design for solar cars is paramount. Carmakers must optimize the design for several factors, including aerodynamics, power efficiency and weight. Yet, Uniformity Labs may have taken a big chunk out of the battery weight problem.
Although Uniformity’s AlSi10Mg powder and corresponding optimized print processes have been applied to various components for multiple industries, the solar race car application illustrates its real-world utility. The company recently produced a roll cage for a solar race car on an in-house SLM 280 2.0 Dual Laser Powder Bed Fusion 3D printer using AlSi10Mg powder.
The car is slated to compete in the 2021 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which invites teams to test their solar cars and be recognized for the skill and dedication required to build them. The international event, held on a 3,000-kilometer route through the Australian Outback, will be virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it is designed to promote efforts to drive technology, innovation and sustainability further.
Through its new material, Uniformity achieved a roll cage with a 30 µm layer thickness that performs as well as a 60 µm thickness print. In addition, the company described the material as having a “fantastic surface finish” with “best-in-class” properties.
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