What do you do when you need a nose cone for a supersonic car? Simple – you print one out and glue it on. When Bloodhound SSC attempts to smash the world land speed record in 2015, it will use a 3D printed nose cone that has been specially designed for the task.
Driver Andy Green is aiming to beat his own record of 763mph by a massive 33% and hit 1,000mph on land for the first time. The vehicle that will take him to this historic milestone in the Bloodhound SSC, a rocket powered car that pushes the limits of human technological achievement.
The numbers involved are staggering. Bloodhound SSC will use a jet engine from a Typhoon fighter to accelerate to 350mph before the rocket engine takes over. Once it hits 350mph, the Falcon rocket kicks in, developing 27,500 pounds of thrust to propel the car to Mach 1.4. At this speed, Bloodhound will be generating the same power as 95 Formula 1 cars and its nose cone will be subjected to forces of 12 tonnes per square metre
As the first part of the vehicle to hit the 1,000mph mark, the nose needs to be both light and incredibly strong. Titanium was chosen as the most suitable material but conventional production methods would have lead to compromises in the design.
To create a nose cone that could withstand the rigours of supersonic travel, the team turned to Renishaw, a company that specialises in a 3D printing technique called laser sintering. Using a high powered laser the Renishaw engineers melted layers of metallic powder and fused them together, varying the wall thickness of the cone. This resulted in a structure that is partially hollow but still incredibly rigid.
Thanks to Renishaw’s 3D printing technology, one of Bloodhound’s most important components will be able to withstand the stresses of supersonic travel on land, helping the team push on to its target speed of 1,000mph.
Bloodhound SSC isn’t just about breaking records, though; it’s also about getting young people interested in science and engineering. The team’s educational division has a range of free resources available to any school, college or university in UK and South Africa, where the record attempt will take place.
To find out more about the world land speed record attempt and related educational projects, visit the Bloodhound SSC website.
by Anthony Morgan