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Rodin Cars builds bespoke race tech with metals AM

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Rodin Cars, the New Zealand-based track car manufacturer, has raised eyebrows and lowered kerb weight with its FZero hypercar design by encasing its ‘first-of-its-kind’ gearbox inside a unique 3D printed performance casing.

The completely custom 8-speed sequential gearbox with hydraulically controlled differential can only be produced using additive manufacturing, providing the strength, necessary fittings and low weight to make the bespoke single-seat, open-wheel car as fast as contemporary F1 cars.

Founded by wealthy Australian auto sport enthusiast David Dicker, head of Dicker Data Australia, Rodin Cars is intent on creating its own race car technologies in order to produce machines that can compete with the best F1 can muster.

Building on a previous gearbox design developed with UK motorsports experts Ricardo, the FZero’s system features 2mm thick walls and weighs a total of 68 kilograms.

To produce the casings, Rodin Cars worked with with 3D Systems, first with application engineers in Colorado, USA to optimise the gearbox for additive manufacturing on the 3D Systems DMP Factory 500. A large format metal 3D printer capable of producing parts as large as 500 x 500 x 500mm, the first parts were them printed at 3D System’s facility in Leuven, Belgium.

Since then, 3D Systems’ AIG has completed the technology transfer to Rodin Cars for full production, with the race brand installing its own DMP Factory 500 on-site at its newly expanded South Island facility to produce gearboxes, as well as hundreds of other bespoke parts, for the Rodin FZero.

Preceded by the Rodin FZed in 2019, which featured a gearbox designed by Ricardo, the new Rodin FZero gearbox was designed with specific gear ratios and differentials in mind, to be produced from Titanium – rather then more typical methods such as casting in Magnesium, or machining from billet metal.
An 18-month design process ensued, with with Rodin Cars once again collaborating with Ricardo, them producing the casings and Ricardo the internals – resulting in a unique design, with 3D printed internal galleries, thin-wall bearing and mount structures.

“Additive manufacturing is enabling industry leaders to defy limitations and stand apart,” said Kevin Baughey, segment leader, transportation & motorsports, 3D Systems.

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“As a high technology, high-performance car constructor, Rodin Cars delivers unparalleled vehicles to their customers. This is a shining example of how additive manufacturing not only enables parts to be produced that couldn’t be created through conventional methods, it is also delivering a lighter, more durable, beautiful vehicle. It’s the blending of the art of design with the science of hyper-performance cars and motorsports.”

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