This season, the Corvette C8.R, IndyCar, NASCAR Camaro, and Silverado off-road race teams have competed over more than 80,000 miles in vehicles including 3-D-printed parts.
“Chevrolet has a long history of technology transfer between our motorsports and production teams, and this is a perfect example of our approach,” says Jim Campbell, vice president of performance and motorsports at GM. “GM’s 3-D printing capability speeds up our learning cycles and, in turn, these racetrack experiences help our additive manufacturing team move one step closer to using 3-D-printed parts in production vehicles.”
Two all-new mid-engine Corvette race cars – both C8.Rs – debuted at Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 25, each equipped with 75 3-D-printed parts, including the oil tank, tank inlet and cap, air conditioning driver cooling box and integrated hydration system, power steering pump bracket, and headlight assemblies. Fifty of these parts were designed or printed in-house by GM.
Since then, the C8.Rs have accumulated nearly 8,000 miles of competition in seven races. Corvettes have won five races in 2020, finished 1-2 three times, including at the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring.
Chevrolet’s IndyCar program also has leveraged 3-D printing for the Chevrolet Indy V-6. Components in the Chevrolet IndyCar V-6 exhaust system are 3-D printed, which helps eliminate failure points in traditional manufactured components while increasing design freedom and reducing cost. Chevrolet’s IndyCar engines have run more than 60,000 miles in 2020.
The Silverado off-road race truck debuted at the Best in the Desert Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic in October 2019. The Silverado competes in the 1200 Stock class, which limits changes to suspension, underbody, and installation of race-safety equipment. As such, the Silverado has three 3-D-printed parts made in-house by GM, including a rear damper shield made with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, which protects the rear dampers from the rocky desert terrain.
Since October 2019, the Silverado race truck has accumulated 900 miles of competition in six races.
Chevrolet also switched to the Camaro ZL1 1LE for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series, replacing the Camaro ZL1. Chevrolet engineers optimized the aerodynamic performance through extensive, full-scale wind-tunnel testing. More than 500 3-D-printed prototype parts were used in testing to develop the new ZL1 1LE body. Additionally, the Camaro ZL1 1LE is equipped with a 3-D-printed gear cooling duct, which has accumulated nearly 18,500 miles of competition in 27 races.
“By utilizing 3-D-printed parts, Chevrolet Motorsports is demonstrating the many benefits of additive manufacturing, including manufacturing efficiencies, mass reduction, parts consolidation, creativity, and cost savings,” says Audley Brown, director of materials engineering, additive design and manufacturing at GM. “3-D-printed parts can offer equal strength and durability to cast or milled components, which is critical for product development and design.”