If there was ever an endorsement for 3D printing that proves just how amazing the technology is, it's this one.
While engineers and project managers around the world are using these printers to prototype creations of all shapes and size, only one company is using them to break a land speed record.
Depending on the success of the endeavour, this could further cement 3D printing's status as a comprehensive manufacturing tool capable of being useful in a range of industries.
Land speed record in sights
Some people are always trying to push the boundaries of what mind and machine can achieve. Racing drivers are just one example of this breed of humans, continually fighting physics to satisfy their need for speed.
Bizarrely, there's an even more unhinged contingent of speed demons lurking in Bristol, England. The Bloodhound Project is committed to breaking the land speed record, while also setting a new milestone for what can be achieved with a set of wheels and an engine.
The real insanity of the project emerges when it is revealed that the team and their driver Andy Green already hold the world record for this feat, clocking in at 1,227.985 kilometres per hour back in 1997.
However, the team now thinks it can go one better and, with the help of 3D printing, they just might succeed.
Although the Bloodhound SSC project already has the land speed record, there are further frontiers to cross before Andy Green hangs up his helmet. At this stage, the team has set its sights on breaking the 1,000 miles per hour mark (more than 1,600 km/h) in an attempt next year.
The team has incorporated 3D printing for a number of the parts that will ensure the car and Andy can hit the target safely. One of the major examples is the steering wheel, an essential component of the vehicle.
3D printing is the perfect manufacturing solution for this type of project, where low-volume production and the uniqueness of the parts required make conventional techniques expensive and inefficient.
What other technologies will the team use?
Naturally, a project of this scale requires as many top-of-the-line technology solutions as possible to ensure it's a success. Because of this, the team has employed 3D scanning and CAD software to create an accurate virtual representation of the surface where the speed test will take place.
The team scanned a 20 kilometre long stretch of dry lake bed, giving them as much information as possible for the planning process.
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