Garry Rogers Motorsport is Australia’s oldest motorsport team, securing wins in the nation’s Supercars Championship, Dunlop Super2 Series, and Bathurst 1000. The company has a team of nearly 40, with a focus on designing, building, and maintaining its own vehicles.

The challenge

While Garry Rogers Motorsport’s in-house workshop can do some manual machining and composites fabrication, it does not have CNC machining capability. The team would instead turn to third parties each time it needed several low-volume complex parts, but the turnaround time was not fast enough and was cost-prohibitive. The more time spent outsourcing parts, the slower the R&D process, meaning the team had less time to focus on finding ways to improve their cars’ performance, both on the racetrack and in the pit during pitstops.

Engineers and designers at Garry Rogers Motorsport use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software to test the airflow of parts. The software often recommends changes in a part’s design to increase speed and improve overall performance, which can result in extremely complex parts – something the team can’t create using any other method. This challenge, coupled with the high costs and long lead times of adding extra details to a part’s design, resulted in engineers and designers shying away from making iterations on parts that required complex designs.

The solution

In 2013, Stefan Millard, Team Manager at Garry Rogers Motorsport, made the decision to add a 3D printer to the workshop to give engineers and designers a new and complementary way to make prototypes and production parts. Through his research, he heard of a new machine capable of 3D printing parts containing carbon-fibre – a material familiar to the team.

“It seemed like Markforged was the only one focused on making strong end-use parts rather than just prototypes,” Millard recalls.

The team needed carbon-fibre to produce strong parts that could be used on its race-cars – and they needed to withstand high use. Millard pre-ordered a carbon-fibre 3D printer from Markforged a few months later, making Garry Rogers Motorsport one of the first companies in Australia to invest in Markforged technology.

Today, the team at Garry Rogers Motorsport mainly uses its 3D printer to print complex parts – from jigs and fixtures to race car end-use parts. According to Millard, around half or more of the parts produced are for end use, based on the CFD software’s suggestions. Some of the end-use parts include covers for door locks, gearbox housings, steering wheel handles, and camera mounts for the drivers.

“You name it, we’ve generally tried to print it,” says Millard.

However, the team has found the most success in printing patterns for fiberglass mouldings. A recent example of this was a brake duct pattern – a part used to create a mould for the final brake duct – which used to cost $1,000 and took two weeks to manufacture. The team printed the same part in-house for $75 and reduced its turnaround time to 24 hours. The brake duct pattern also contains details in its design that can’t be easily produced using subtractive methods – and unlike a CNC machine, a 3D printer doesn’t quote additional costs or time due to details in a design.

Looking ahead

Design flexibility and removing turnaround time have been the two biggest benefits of the investment, according to Millard. This has in turn helped the team to increase their cars’ performance. Since adding the carbon-fibre 3D printer, there has been a major focus on reducing assembly time by taking parts that used to require assembly and printing it as one part. The time saved as a result of implementing Markforged technology is redeployed back into R&D.

“That extra time we get by using our Markforged printer goes straight into the designing or making more parts or finding other areas to make Garry Rogers Motorsport cars go faster,” says Millard. “That’s our primary goal.”