Leavine Family Racing deploys MakerBot METHOD X for race car parts

Leavine Family Racing, a NASCAR Cup Series Team, is harnessing MakerBot’s METHOD X 3D printing system to produce a number of car parts.

The racing team completed the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season with a top 20 finish and has raced the No. 95 Toyota Camry from 2011 to 2020. Using three METHOD X printers, the team has additively manufactured components like dummy camera pods and air intake ducts, reporting reductions in time and cost.

Leavine Family Racing first adopted additive manufacturing as a cheaper method of making inch-wide pucks, which are used to fill holes in the splitters on the cars. While previously the team had bought the components from a vendor, by 3D printing them in PLA material the team managed to save between $20,000-$25,000 a year. The team then explored prototyping and fixturing applications, before bringing the MakerBot METHOD X in-house to explore end-use components.

With the MakerBot METHOD X’s portfolio of thermoplastic materials and the machine’s capacity to print at high temperatures, the team successfully printed dummy camera pods, which are mounted on the tail of the car. Additively manufacturing the components on-site meant the team did not have to take race-ready parts off the car during the body fabrication process, saving significant amounts of time. Meanwhile, the air intake ducts were printed in MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber to take advantage of its high strength and heat performance capabilities, and has worked well to ensure fresh air is brought into the vehicle to help optimise the car’s performance.  

The Leavine Family Racing Team says it selected the MakerBot METHOD X, despite its penchant for outsourcing production, to harness these very capabilities.

“Our team had new ideas, new uses and our use of 3D printing expanded from there,” commented Michael Leavine, Vice President of Leavine Family Racing. “It it became a daily thing for us and our printers were constantly running. We weren’t expecting 3D printing to become such an integral part of our production. We didn’t typically manufacture our own parts; we always bought from vendors. But then the capability came along where we were able to make our own parts and it opened our eyes to doing things better, faster, cheaper and more efficiently. The ability to control the production process in-house, without having to manage outsourced vendors who also have demands from other clients was critical. We were able to control everything from the process to part quality and more.”

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