Winning rallies with 3D printing

Winning rallies with 3D printing

Jari-Matti Latvala, Finnish rally driver and entrepreneur, made the decision to invest in 3D printing by purchasing a miniFactory Ultra 3D printer. With his experience, he knew better than anyone the high requirements for spare parts in motorsports. Only a few months and multiple 3D printed parts later, Jari-Matti is pushing the rally car to the limit and heading to competitions.

With miniFactory Ultra 3D printer, we are able to create end use parts with integrated features. Those parts used to be difficult to get or even manufacture. An excellent example of such a part is the new turbo intake pipe that we 3D printed. The complex geometry combined with optimized airflow has me amazed.”

- Jari-Matti Latvala, JML-Sports

Challenges

  • Spare parts for classic rally cars are limited or not at all available
  • Manufacturing spare parts for classic rally cars is usually complicated and expensive – if at all still possible (traditional production)
  • Parts need to resist chemicals, high temperatures and mechanical stress 

Solutions

  • 3D printing technology: fused filament fabrication
  • MiniFactory hardware
  • High performance materials that provide demanding properties to parts: high mechanical, heat resistance, resistance to chemicals

Benefits

  • From idea to functional part within hours and at a fraction of the cost of an original part
  • Parts can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing as no expensive molds or multi-stage manufacturing process is needed
  • Create end use parts with complex geometries and integrated features, which often outperform the original part
  • 3D modeling, optimizing and printing was done under the same roof
  • Pressure and stress testing to ensure functionality in demanding rally environments can be done day after printing

Jari-Matti Latvala (on Facebook) has been around rally cars almost his entire life. He combined his passions into his job by being both an entrepreneur and a rally driver. His company, JML-Sports, is focused on rebuilding cult cars of the ’80s and ’90s. The availability of spare parts for these cars are extremely limited and the manufacturing is usually complicated and expensive.

To keep the cult cars on stage, Jari-Matti and his team made the innovative decision to invest in 3D printing and manufacture complex motorsport parts on their own. With 3D printing, the team significantly sped up the manufacturing of parts and at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing. What used to take multiple weeks now is accomplished overnight and under their own roof.

At JML-Sports, everything happens under the same roof, which means manufacturing parts on demand is unprecedentedly fast. Once a need for a part is identified, the engineer measures the required dimensions and designs a 3D model. The part is then printed and tested. At best, this happens within hours, without special tools, molds or multi-stage manufacturing methods. On most occasions, the 3D printed parts even outperform the original part. Now the team can 3D print parts that are capable of handling chemicals, high temperatures and mechanical stress by selecting the optimal material.
 

Winning Toyota Celica

Roughly one year ago, Jari-Matti started one of his current rally car projects. A Toyota Celica ST165, driven by Mats Jonsson, the winning car of the International Swedish Rally in 1992, was delivered to Jari-Matti. The car arrived in parts and was completely rebuilt by the crew. During the rebuilding, it became obvious that the car was missing some critical parts that were hard or impossible to find. 

Turbo intake with optimal air flow

While the team was rebuilding the Celica, they noticed a missing turbo intake pipe. Big masses of air flow through the pipe, so high mechanical strength and good heat resistance are required. With 3D printing, the team was able to fit the part perfectly and optimize the air flow to gain the best possible performance.

Key points of the 3D printed turbo intake:

  • Optimized pipe diameter for ideal air flow and excellent fit within the car
  • From idea to functional part within hours and at a fraction of the cost of an original part
  • Pressure and stress tested to ensure functionality in demanding rally environments
     

Air intake duct with complex geometry

The air intake duct is another necessary part of the assembly. This part must withstand continuous mechanical stress of the rally environment. With 3D printing, it was possible to replace the multi-stage manufacturing process that was used to create the original part. Utilizing 3D printing technology, the properties of the part could also be optimized. The team chose to make these parts from a carbon fiber reinforced polyamide, Novamid® ID1030 CF10 from Covestro. The material has a high tensile strength and modulus while retaining its properties at elevated temperatures.

Key points of the 3D printed air intake spare part:

  • 3D modeling, optimizing and printing was done under the same roof; the part was ready for testing the day after being printed
  • Cost savings due to not needing expensive molds or multi-stage manufacturing process
  • Pressure and stress tested to ensure functionality in demanding rally environments
     

The completely rebuilt car, enhanced with multiple 3D printed parts, was tested in action. With the experience of over 200 WRC rallies, Jari-Matti was confident about the performance of the car. Now he is heading to a real competition in the national rallies.
 

Competitive edge for the future

After the Celica ST165, the focus for JML-Sports will move to a few other rare rally classics such as the Toyota Celica ST185 and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo3. With a successful start with miniFactory technology, the team already knows multiple parts that they can now 3D print. The next parts that will be 3D printed are intake lines, air filter covers, air vents and side mirror covers. 

After only 3D printing for a few months, the team is already reviving cult classic rally cars. The possibilities for JML-Sports in the coming years is limitless. But one thing is for sure: they will win their rallies with 3D printing!

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