Despite a fantastic 2017 with one of the most complex aerodynamics packages to date, Monash Motorsport continues to innovate and improve the car in preparation for our European campaign in the middle of the year. As such, a select few parts were chosen to be redesigned in order for M17-C and M17-E to reach its full potential; among those redesigned parts is the front wing.

The front wing is crucial to developing a proper air flow structure throughout the car. It provides downforce, directs flow to the rest of the aerodynamic parts, and helps establish the aero balance. The design period involves designing the front wing using CAD, running simulations using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and structural design. Once the ideal results have been achieved, the Aerodynamics section then moves on to manufacture the front wing.

In order to achieve similar results to our CFD simulations, it is important that the manufacturing is meticulous. A big part of the design process involves mould design. Much like in 2017, this year’s front wing involves a 3D flap design to generate vortex structures which help direct the flow to the undertray and bodywork. Thanks to our sponsor, 3D Systems, we are able to obtain a mould that provides a fantastic finish with significantly reduced manufacturing and post-working time.

The moulds were made using a technique called stereolithography (SLA), which is an additive manufacturing process which uses an ultraviolet laser focusing on a vat of photopolymer resin. The resin solidifies and forms a layer of the desired object, in this case our front wing flap moulds. Once the moulds have been printed and delivered to the team, the moulds are then spray painted with a coat of primer and sanded down to provide an almost glass-like finish. Having a smooth finish helps lessen the skin friction drag generated through air flow as it is directly proportional to surface roughness. Thankfully, the finish that 3D Systems On Demand Manufacturing delivers us is so smooth that we required minimal postworking to get the moulds lay-up ready.

After prepping the moulds, it’s then time to lay-up the carbon fibre over the mould. We use a technique called wet-layup – wetting the carbon with resin and vacuum-forming it in a bag to allow the carbon fibre to conform to the mould. The carbon part is then trimmed and glued together, forming M17’s new flaps.

Previously, we utilised foam to construct our flap moulds and the manufacturing process of the flaps would have taken a couple of months. Given the intricate design of our front wing flaps and the challenge of manufacturing two sets of front wings for M17-C and M17-E, it would not have been possible to achieve our strict deadlines using previous methods.

3D printing was chosen as an alternative method to minimise the time needed to construct the moulds and would also allow us to retain the complexity of the design. Rather than using inhouse 3D printing machines, we decided to outsource the printing to 3D Systems – On Demand Manufacturing as they would also be able to offer a variety of material options as well as technical expertise. The printed flap moulds we received from them have exceeded our expectations in terms of turnaround time and quality of finish.

Thanks to the invaluable support of our sponsor 3D Systems – On Demand Manufacturing, and their premium quality printing, we are able to manufacture multiple flaps, helping us to achieve our quickest manufacturing period to date.