A Schwartz vehicle in action

Schwartz Off Road Motorsportz

Saving time on and off the track with 3D printing

Parti finali

Owner and driver, Erik Schwartz of Schwartz Off Road Motorsportz is an engineer by trade and spends all of his free time tinkering and maintaining his vehicle to compete in the Championship Off Road Series. Schwartz has become adept at making improvements on the fly. In order to turn these ideas into reality, Schwartz utilizes Ultimaker 3D printing technology.

Once considered a novelty, the Ultimaker product line has become a necessary tool for this team to compete at a high level. With advanced material options available with the Ultimaker S5, Schwartz Off Road Motorsportz (SORM) is saving time on and off the track.

Introduction

Tomorrow is the big race. All week long, the team has been preparing their Side by Side (SxS) vehicle to compete and win. Suddenly, during their preparation on Thursday afternoon the antenna clamp breaks. This is bad news and without a proper replacement, communications are shut off between the pit crew and the race officials —creating a very unsafe environment for the driver. With less than 24 hours until the race weekend, it’s impossible to get a part produced and shipped in time. Adversity calls for a creative solution.

This scenario is common for those who participate in all sorts of off road sports. Typically, the racing teams are small and fueled by passion, so they tend to be cost conscious and resourceful when it comes to problem solving. Schwartz Off Road Motorsportz (Oshkosh, WI) is one of the many family-owned teams competing in the Championship Off Road Series, but their approach to engineering solutions is anything but common.

Erik Schwartz, Owner and Driver, has worked with 3D printing since high school. and knows what type of value it can provide for quick-turn answers to complex problems. Combining his passion for motorsports with his affection for 3D printing enabled his team to do more with less. “Some people want to tinker with 3D printing,” said Schwartz. “Not me. Quality matters and when I hit print, I want it to be done right.” A few years back, Schwartz and his team ran into several design and performance issues for the SxS vehicle and wasted no time integrating the Ultimaker 2. Since then, it has clocked up more than 4,000 hours of printing, and the team has upgraded to the Ultimaker S5.

Antenna grip part
A 3D printed antenna clamp

Challenge

Operating on passion and a limited budget is a real challenge for those who wish to compete at a high level. For SORM and many other racing teams, it’s imperative to build, test and optimize the vehicle without draining the bank account. Traditionally, races are held bi- weekly throughout a given season and adjustments are constantly made. Whether it’s fixing broken parts, replacing others or making design improvements to enhance performance, this requires time and money. “When a part issue arises, we typically outsource to a machine shop,” said Schwartz. “It gets expensive and can take up to three weeks for delivery.”

Like most racing teams, the SORM team has limited fabrication methods inhouse and must rely on third party businesses to produce parts from sheet metal. Parts that need consistent replacement on the vehicle due to wear and tear are brackets, fixtures, clamps, and a variety of mounts. While some parts can last an entire season, others need replacement every other weekend. “These parts range from $500 - $750 per,” said Schwartz. “It’s difficult to absorb that type of cost, especially when we require backups or we make a design mistake. Let’s face it, we don’t always get it right the first time.”

In addition to the problem of replacing worn out parts, Schwartz and his team are constantly tweaking and finding new ways to keep their vehicle competitive. Ideation is one of their key advantages, so the team needed to find a low-cost way to test ideas and validate the functionality of certain parts. Whether it’s the development of lighter weight components or redesigning air passageways, every new design can be the difference between winning or losing. “Fans may only see the 20 minutes on the track but behind the scenes, our team puts a lot of time and effort during the week to make this work. We need it done right,” said Schwartz.

It can be the difference between finishing tenth or first

Clamp part
A 3D printed clamp incorporating bolts
Radiator mount part
The improvised 3D printed radiator clamp

Solution


Schwartz is a veteran Ultimaker user. For years, the team owned and operated the Ultimaker 2, single extrusion 3D printer. Using it predominantly as a prototyping tool, the team printed in PLA to test form, fit and function for a variety of ideas. After 4,000+ hours of printing, the equipment continues to run like new and has been a source of curiosity for fans and fellow competitors. “We invite fans into our pit at the race track and it’s always the topic of conversation,” said Schwartz. “Like our trailer or tool box, we treat the 3D printer as an important part of the business.” Used mainly for prototyping, Schwartz and his team knew that an upgrade was necessary to take them into production. Enter the dual-extrusion, Ultimaker S5 3D printer.

At the beginning of last season, a costly crash damaged the vehicle in several ways which forced the team to replace the radiator. Due to supply chain problems, the manufacturer quoted a six-month lead time. This was unacceptable, and would cause the team to miss the season entirely. Instead, Schwartz ordered an off-the-shelf radiator and designed several brackets to custom fit it into the vehicle. The Ultimaker S5 was the perfect tool to print and reprint parts out of polycarbonate that would connect to metal brackets that hold the radiator in place. “We were in a super time pinch,” said Schwartz. “The 3D printer saved our season and in some ways, improved it.” With a wide array of advanced materials at their fingertips, the team began using the equipment in ways they never thought possible.

Let's look at some other applications and benefits, followed by a cost comparison for a typical bracket part.

Performance panels: Accidents happen in motorsports. The back quarter panel is a prime location for damage and if impacted hard enough, can damage the chassis. Instead of purchasing new quarter panels, SORM designed a quarter panel clamp 3D printed with nylon and a TPU insert that could absorb the damage more effectively. Not only does this save them hundreds in replacement cost, the nylon material is more likely to crush then ruin the chassis—which would cost a lot more than just a quarter panel itself.

Complex capabilities: Dual extrusion technology enables SORM to maximize the value of PVA (water soluble) material especially for complex geometries or internal channels. SORM developed an enhanced front grille designed to increase airflow to the vehicle, thus providing a natural cooling mechanism. Machining a custom passageway such as this is nearly impossible, but completely doable with dual material 3D printing combining the strength and functionality of polycarbonate with soluble PVA.

Organization: A working shop can be chaotic and sometimes the smallest details can save time, money and headaches. Printing custom jigs, fixtures and color coded trays have become standard in the SORM shop. Multicolor printing capabilities leads to a better-organized workshop. This is common practice for many larger industrial companies who use this technology to identify safety fixtures and create ergonomically sound devices for workers.

Traditional methodExpeditedUltimaker 3D printers
Cost$300 - $500$750+Negligible
Time2 - 3 weeks2 - 3 daysWithin hours

Results and the future

“Materials and data,” Schwartz said confidently. The progress being made in polymer development has become a major benefit to the industry. Stronger rubbers, custom plastics made with chemical resistant properties and improved heat deflection thermoplastics will help move the industry forward. In addition, the data collected will improve part analysis and performance for future product development. The next generation of industrialization is highly connected, and the compilation of data will impact the way companies produce prototypes, spare parts and products.

Ultimaker is the epitome of innovation and continues to lead by example. Its material portfolio boasts over 40 advanced filaments available directly with Ultimaker or accessible through a preferred network of providers. In addition, the CURA software is rated as one of the most user-friendly and intuitive programs available to the community of 3D printing engineers and enthusiasts. Through data aggregation, this software is equipping the industry with the tools to react quicker and perform at a higher level. Similar to Schwartz Off Road Motorsportz, Ultimaker is committed to tweaking, improving, and performing at the highest level possible.

Discover more end-use part applications

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      There are many ways in which 3D printing can be used to enhance the students' learning experience in modern-day primary education. Discover how 3D printing can boost learning here.

      • Education
    • 3D printed chess set

      An innovative 3D printing venture at Atlantic University College

      With support from students knowledgeable in 3D modeling and CAD software, Professor Vicente Gasco has set out to send 3D printing-savvy graduates into the working world through courses featuring the latest technologies.

      • Education
    • Developing sustainable fuel with Team FAST

      Developing sustainable fuel with Team FAST

      Using their Ultimaker 3D printer, Team FAST was able to design and print custom mounts and fittings for their car prototype fueled with formic acid.

      • Education
    • VHP

      Changing lives in developing countries with 3D printed prosthetics

      The Victoria Hand Project creates customized prosthetic hands for amputees in third world countries – using Ultimaker 3D printers to make the process more efficient and cost-effective.

      • Medical
    • Fittle IVPEI

      3D printed puzzle breaks down braille barriers

      For visually impaired people, learning to read braille is essential. But for many, braille learning devices are either too costly or ineffective. Now a 3D printed puzzle is making this vital skill accessible to all.

      • Education
      • End-use parts
    • jessica joosse designer 3D printing

      3D printing and the future of personalized fashion

      For designer Jessica Joosse, the fourth industrial revolution is transforming fashion, and an Ultimaker 3D printer is the perfect tool to explore possibilities.

      • Consumer goods
    • Luke-3DProsthetic-hand

      Meet Luke and his 3D printed e-NABLE hand

      With a global network of over 5,000 volunteers, the e-NABLE foundation designs, creates, and donates their 3D printed hands free of charge to children and adults using Ultimaker 3D printers.

      • Medical
    • farmshelf

      Farmshelf: Cost-effective custom parts for an urban farm system

      By using Ultimaker 2+ 3D printers, Farmshelf was able to iterate designs and print hundreds of custom parts; far more quickly than other methods of fabrication.

      • Consumer goods
      • Product development
    • melt-ultibot-hero2

      Using 3D printed shapes to create food molds

      3D printing shapes and prototypes for food-safe molds is becoming a popular 3D printer application in the food industry that allows entrepreneurs to escape the demands of industrial-sized production runs.

      • Consumer goods
      • Product development
    • 3D-printed-mold-cores-on-Ultimaker-S5-build-plate-hero

      3D printing custom refractory mold cores for industrial ceramics

      Discover how a Czech industrial ceramics supplier benefits from Ultimaker 3D printers to create bespoke 3D printed refractory mold cores.

      • Industrial goods
      • Manufacturing aids
    • Elizabeth-tilburg-96-optimized-cropped

      Research on the benefits of 3D printing in a trauma hospital

      3D printing is seeing increasingly widespread adoption in the medical field. It has already been used to visualize bone fractures, but pioneering researchers believe it can also be used to help treat trauma patients.

      • Medical
    • custom-pool-designs

      3D printing in landscape architecture and pool design

      3D printing is changing the face of architectural design. Discover how landscape designers are transforming outdoor spaces into memorable locations that allow people to fully engage in their surroundings, while making a positive impact on the environment.

      • Architecture
    • Ulticast

      Using Ultimaker to cast silicone for soft robotics

      Using their Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer, students from Delft University of Technology have discovered a way to cast silicone for soft robotics. This has huge implications for soft actuators, and for the medical sector. Read on to learn more.

      • Education
      • Product development
    • ultimaker-3d-printing-events-booth-makerfaire-2

      100% recycled filament from Perpetual Plastic Project

      At this moment there are huge amounts of waste plastic, and only 10 to 12% of it is being recycled. The team behind the Perpetual Plastic Project is looking to change the world by reducing the amount of plastic.

      • Consumer goods
      • Product development