From SLM Headquarters in Lübeck, Germany: Hungarian student team SZEngine has produced the world’s first 3D-printed Formula Student racing engine using SLM® technology. All of the main components for the 55 hp single-cylinder engine were produced with the SLM®280 additive manufacturing system. The project is part of a cooperation with the Motor Manufacturing Centre (MAC) of Audi Hungaria in Győr, Hungary.
SZEngine is a team of students that designs and develops racing engines for teams taking part in Formula Student, an international racing series in which students develop, construct and then race their own cars. SZEngine has now succeeded in producing a complete engine using selective laser melting and the SLM®280 printer at the Motor Manufacturing Centre (MAC) of Audi Hungaria.
Selective laser melting is one of the key technologies for the production of functional prototypes, series parts and components in various industries. As well as enabling unprecedented design freedom, additive manufacturing also makes it possible to produce lightweight components. This is a huge advantage in the automotive industry.
This project began in 2016 when Zoltán Dudás, a 3D metal printing specialist at Audi Hungaria, was instructed to print a fully functioning engine using the SLM®280. At the time, the SZEngine team had already asked the MAC about a cooperation to mill engine parts so Dudás decided to combine the two projects. Dudás allowed the student team to not just mill the components, but print them from scratch with the SLM®280 which features a 280 x 280 x 365 mm3 build envelope and patented multi-beam technology.
The team began by printing the timing side of the crankcase. The component was designed for conventional processing and required too many support structures so the team decided to digitally redesign the component to make it suitable for 3D printing. This task fell to Dániel Kővári, who was the crankcase designer in the SZEngine team at the time.
In order to be able to call the engine a “3D-printed engine”, the team subsequently redesigned all of the other main engine components. In total, nine engine components were produced including: a two-part crankcase, the cylinder, the cylinder head and cylinder head cover, as well as the covers for the clutch, timing belt, oil filter and oil pump.
After production, the components were mechanically processed and measured at the Motor Manufacturing Centre (MAC). They were tested both individually and then together on the SZEngine team’s test bench before being installed into the test car.
Dudás and SZEngine are not the only one thrilled with the results. Ralf Frohwerk, Global Head of Business Development at SLM Solutions, is very pleased with the groundbreaking project: “Every day our customers are placing greater trust in SLM® technology. This impressive project from SZEngine and Audi Hungaria in Győr clearly shows that metal-based 3D printing is not just suitable for prototypes, but can also be successfully used for series production, especially small batches. The customer’s experience in component design for 3D printing shows how additive manufacturing can enable improvements both in terms of function and performance.”