The winning team of the Formula Student Germany Championship 2012 used laser additive manufacturing for their car's front axle’s steering knuckle, which connects the tie rod, suspension, brake and wheel.
The Rennteam Uni Stuttgart team used Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to optimise the knuckle structure. This involved making areas of the knuckle that needed strength solid, while spots where such a characteristic was not necessary became hollow. The new design reduced the weight by 660g, a saving of 35 per cent compared with the previous cast part, and at the same time the knuckle became 20 per cent more rigid.
Rennteam Uni Stuttgart team member Yannick Löw explained: ‘We previously produced the part using an aluminium precision casting process, which led to limitations in freedom of design, notably that the part had to be solid throughout.’
The development and production time was also significantly shorter because laser additive manufacturing removes the need for a mould. The knuckle was manufactured using aluminium AlSi10Mg powder. The part was manufactured at EOS’ headquarters in Krailling, near Munich using the company’s direct metal laser sintering technology. The CAD software used was from EOS partner, London firm Within Technologies.