| 12:32 PM EST

Print Parts on Saturday, Race on Sunday

The McLaren-Honda Formula One race team plans to use a Stratasys 3D printer at next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix to quickly modify and produce parts during practice sessions ahead of the race.  
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The McLaren-Honda Formula One race team plans to use a Stratasys 3D printer at next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix to quickly modify and produce parts during practice sessions ahead of the race.

McLaren-Honda race cars have used a handful of small 3D-printed components for several years. But this will be the first time the team prints parts on site during race week, which the partners say will allow engineers to experiment and make changes overnight to reduce weight and improve a car’s aerodynamic performance.

The 2017 McLaren-Honda MCL32 F1 car features several small plastic 3D parts. These include a hydraulic line bracket (pictured), a connection cable for a new communication system, carbon-fiber-composite brake cooling ducts and a rear wing flap.

Using the 3D printer, a revised structural bracket for the hydraulic line can be produced in about four hours. This compares with as long as two weeks to set up and build the part using traditional manufacturing processes, according to the race team.

The two-way communication and data system was added to the race car this season, but the initial cable distracted drivers. McLaren-Honda used the Stratasys 3D printer to test three different designs using multiple materials, before selecting a rubber-like boot that joins the system’s harness wires.

Stratasys plans to use F1 as a testbed for new 3D equipment and processes. But company officials don’t expect 3D printers to be cost-effective for high-volume applications for production vehicles for at least another five years.