Mumbai: The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay Racing team has built India’s first 3D titanium alloy automotive component, called an upright, with the help of Wipro 3D.

The IIT-B Racing team is using this titanium 3D part in its newly-launched sixth-generation electric race car—the EVoX. The team is India’s Formula Student Electric team which aims to “revolutionize" electric mobility in India while focusing on sustainable technologies and innovations. The IIT-B Racing team participates in the international competition Formula Students at the UK’s Silverstone circuit, one of Europe’s established educational motorsport competitions run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The wheel upright, or spindle as it is also known, is a complex part and bears very high structural road. Its function is to provide a physical connection from the wheels to the suspension links, and provide mounting and installation for the brake caliper which slows down a car’s wheels by creating friction with the rotors. The design of the wheel hub and upright are critical in optimizing the weight of the vehicle since it can reduce fuel consumption while retaining the required strength.

Conventional machining, explained Kanishka Panda, chief mechanical officer of the IIT Bombay Racing team, can only design a part in a particular shape. “This additively manufactured titanium (earlier used aluminium) part, on the other hand, has helped reduce the weight of the part by 40% -- from 460 gm to 250 gm".

Additive manufacturing describes technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material—whether the material is plastic, metal or concrete. This method has also improved the “ergonomics of the wheel upright", said Panda. The IIT-B Racing team replaced aluminium with titanium because of the latter’s “high strength to density ratio".

Wipro 3D, part of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering, contributed its technical expertise on additive manufacturing as well as the equipment and material for the fabrication of parts, said Ajay Parikh, vice-president and business head of Wipro 3D, which was launched around four years back and caters to the aerospace, space and industrial sectors.

Parikh clarified that 3D (additive manufacturing) printed metal parts have been used as prototypes in the automotive sector. “However, this is the first time it has been used in an electric-powered racing car in India," he said, adding, “this (collaboration with the IIT-B Racing team) marks our entry into the performance automotive sector, and also offers the country’s designers and innovators the ability to reduce the time to actualize the design time for organic (eg. fluid curves as opposed to straight lines) designs".

Going forward, said Panda, the IIT-B Racing team is exploring the use of additive manufacturing for the mounting of the power train of the car and manufacturing of brake callipers.

The IIT Bombay Racing team has been winning the Formula Student Award by IMechE for being the best non-UK team for the past three years. It hopes to repeat this performance when this year’s event begins on 11 July, with some help from the 3D printed titanium wheel upright.

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