UK additive manufacturing expert KW Special Projects (KWSP) and sister company, KW Motorsport (KWM), historic car engineering specialist, have employed the latest in 3D printing technology to restore an historic French sports car.
Based in Brackley, home to the F1 team, Mercedes AMG Petronas’ facilities, KWSP is at the heart of the UK’s thriving Motorsport Valley. KWSP has the ability to facilitate large projects including design engineering, on site assembly, testing, R&D and commissioning for sectors such as motorsport, automotive, aerospace and healthcare.
When faced with only a faded black and white photo of a missing gear selector housing, the company’s engineers used their AM capabilities to design and manufacture the missing parts for the 1927 Amilcar C6.
“This was a unique project that demanded not only technical know-how of the latest AM techniques, but also creativity and intuition,” Kieron Salter, managing director of KWSP, explained. “Using AM instead of conventional manufacturing methods, our engineers were able to design and make parts quickly and cost effectively using 3D printing technology. This approach enabled us to fit a printed prototype into the actual vehicle to ensure it met with the design brief, fitted perfectly into the cockpit and also gained the owner’s approval.”
3D printed gear selector housing.
The vehicle employed an extended selector housing, which had been adapted from the original car, possibly to make driving more comfortable for the owner at the time.
Overcoming costly conventional methods and risky prototyping, the company used a combination of CAD design, 3D printing and traditional aluminium casting of the final part to restore the piece back to its former glory.
Salter, added: “Using Solidworks CAD software, we converted the scan data into useful CAD files that gave us the mechanical interfaces and geometry to begin designing the new cover. Because the original castings were manufactured from handmade patterns, there are not many exact features within the cover that can be predicted.
“Also, the new ergonomic position of the gearshift via the remote linkage was not easy to predict, so we not only had to reverse engineer the casing, but also its installation in the car and the hard objects such as the dash bulkhead and steering wheel in order to get the positioning correct.”