Formula 1 has always been at the forefront when it comes to bold, cutting edge technology, so it is no surprise to see the sport become one of the first to incorporate 3D printing.
However, it seems that the idea goes beyond merely using 3D printing technology now and again, with one of the leading teams suggesting that 3D printing is the "future of F1". It's quite the statement, I'm sure you'll agree - though, it's completely understandable.
According to Red Bull Racing, we could soon be seeing 3D printing used on the trackside for printing car parts when the vehicles are damaged.
Red Bull Racing do currently use 3D printing, however, this is not for the actual race cars - they are used to build prototypes, as was explained to Trusted Reviews when they visited the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes.
The Red Bull Racing team explained that their room full of 3D printers are constantly printing test parts for a 60% scale prototype of the car, which is sent into a wind tunnel for further testing of the aerodynamic performance, before full-scale production.
“3D printing is definitely the future of F1,” said an official Red Bull Racing spokesperson. “We could get to a point where we can print out a new front wing at the track if we’ve damaged one.”
Currently, it is only the materials that are holding back the plan to print out parts for the actual race cars. The resin and powdered composite materials that are currently used in the 3D printing process simply cannot stand the weight and pressure put on F1 vehicles during a race.
So, for now, Formula 1 is just waiting on 3D printing technology to develop that bit further, which would allow a move from prototype development to utilising robust materials as part of the real production. It may sooner rather than later, if Red Bull Racing's plans are anything to go by.