New materials enable engineers to create tougher, stronger, lighter, higher-performing components. This can be seen with materials such as composites for Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technique: driven by demands from high performing sectors such as motorsports and automotive, the frontiers of material development will be pushed to even more extreme levels in order to reach even more successful results.

SLS composite materials must be suited to the application. The properties of any material become increasingly important as a product progresses from concept and functional prototyping to end use. CRP Technology's R&D department tackled the development of a new front air inlet for a Moto3 racing customer to solve space issues in the front fork area. It has been manufactured in WINDFORM® composite 3D printing materials by using the SLS Additive Manufacturing technique. Testing had shown that increasing air flow to the air-box improved the performance of the engine at every RPM range. This led the team as well as the engineers to conclude that they need to design a new track ready inlet. This design would make the air inlet longer, and bring the opening up to the front side of the fairing, in order to have a direct air flow with less turbulence.

Among the goals to be achieved was the need to avoid modifying the existing frame and the existing triple clamps. The design would have to fit the existing platform in order to test the on-track advantages and disadvantages of using this solution, and to make a direct comparison with the current standard inlet. The final decision to use the new inlet came from its behavior on-track with the key points being its performance and reliability. Engineers kept the current airbox with the aim to mount the traditional air inlet as well as the new one and to acquire data of the airbox pressure on track.

Through the use of reverse engineering, the original airbox was scanned and virtually assembled with the CAD system. This allowed the engineers to be able to create a new model of the air inlet by taking into account the amount of available space, and the constraints of the assembly of the current airbox and frame.

This article appeared in the September–October 2018 issue of Reinforced Plastics. Log in to your free profile to access the article.

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