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How Williams Formula One uses 3D printing for race cars

How Williams F1 uses 3D printing technology 

The requirement of Formula One cars to be lightweight (but not too lightweight) means they are currently formed from metals such as aluminium alongside parts made from carbon fibre. At the Williams F1 base, there are on-site 3D printing machines that can create polymers, however metal parts are still created off-site.

At the moment, the majority of the 3D printed polymers are used in the test models for the racing cars. Currently, the team carries out only four or five real-life tests a year. To get around this, and also allow the team to have a faster and cheaper way of testing out car parts, they use a wind tunnel model. This test involves a vehicle that is 60 percent of the size of a real car and is placed on a treadmill which goes at 55 metres a second to try to recreate the high speeds the cars will get up to during the Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, wind is also pushed against the car, replicating the downforce factor of air on the car, while many instruments are placed on the vehicle to obtain readings on various factors. Currently, 3D printing is most widely used to create parts to be tested out on this replica race car.