Andretti Autosport uses 3D printing to build medical face-shield parts

Andretti Autosport Photo

Armed with a vast array of computer aided design (CAD) software along with 3D printers that can create specialized parts and equipment, NTT IndyCar Series team Andretti Autosport is taking that expertise to the medical field.

Team owner Michael Andretti’s team is building a key part for medical face shields. These shields protect first responders, nurses and doctors from moisture droplets. The droplets can spread the COVID-19 virus from one human to another.

Simply put, the design process goes from Andretti Autosport’s CAD system to an intermediate piece of software and then the printer makes the part.

Andretti Autosport senior development engineer Aaron Marney is in charge of this project along with team technical director Eric Bretzman and Marissa Andretti.

“We went into our shutdown and have a few resources sitting there,” Marney explained to “We have been reading some stories about people wanting to help out the medical community. I reached out to our technical director, Eric Bretzman, if he would be open to doing something like this. That started the conversation.

“At the same time, Marissa Andretti on her own had reached out to Eric to ask if we could do something in this area. Me and Marissa connected. We wanted to do something and see what the shape looked like on it and what we could do, what the resources and how big of an impact we could make.

3D Printer Chamber — Andretti Autosport Photo

“We reached out Stratasys, the company that manufacturers the 3D printer. They are a technical partner of ours’. They were in the infancy of a program where they were printing PPE (personal protective equipment) for hospitals that had approached them. Once we talked about it internally, and what we could put into it, we jumped on board and have been helping them the last 3-4 weeks now.”

Andretti Autosport is making the frame that goes around the crown of the head and hold the clear face shield. Stratasys has a relationship with Medtronic, the company that makes the actual shield.

The simple design is a one-piece part that has a mounting for the actual shield. An elastic band can be attached to the frame to keep the face shield on a person’s head.

Andretti Autosport ships batches of 100 to Stratasys in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. After that, they are shipped to Medtronic for final assembly, including the clear lens.

“The crew is me and another person,” Marney said. “We are the point people on 3-D printing for our company. I go in and service the printer. When we have both machines going, we can print about 35 a day. Each machine takes about 20 hours to produce a batch of parts. We go in, pull the parts off, clean them and when we get 100 of them, we box them up and ship them off.”

The frame is made with “ASA” plastic, similar to “ABS” plastic. Don’t look up those acronyms, though, because the answer will never be revealed.

“It doesn’t stand for anything,” Marney explained. “It’s a name they came up for it. It’s a plastic polymer that has a little more bendability than ABS plastic. It is a little bit is something we use for a lot of prototypes and finished pieces like templates and fixturing. It is also pretty good for this application as well.”

Visors in the Printer Chamber — Andretti Autosport Photo

The 3D printer is an extremely useful tool for any IndyCar Series team because it can create a wide range of parts.

“It has a pretty decent array of materials it can use,” Marney continued. “We do lots of pit equipment. Fans and blowers that keep the car and driver cool. We make bolts for composite pieces along with holders and brackets. The more we work with it, the more in-use parts we can make. We also use it for a lot of templates and for prototypes as well. There are a lot of in-use parts and prototypes to see how things fit together and templates to drill holes.”

So, in detail, how does the 3D printing process really work?

To give that question the explanation it deserves, let’s have Marney explain it.

“There is a small group of us that would take an idea, such as the driver cooling for the aeroscreen,” Marney said. “There is a little duct that pipes air to the helmet. If we take a fan or a tube or a fitting, we will design that in our CAD system to make a 3D model of it. We would then evaluate it. The good thing about 3D printing is you can come up with some organic looking shapes and tailor it for what you need. You are not limited by standard manufacturing methods like mills or lathes or regular sheet metal. You can make the part look like anything you want it to, exactly tailored to what you need.

“We would evaluate the abuse and temperature and select the material based on that. Then, we introduce that into the software that Stratasys has that queues up all the tool paths and programming for the printer. We put the geometry in that to figure out the orientation we want to put it in. It has different strengths because it is building it one-ten-thousandths of an inch at a time. That can vary on what you are doing. It is building up these layers of plastic and melting them together. We have to figure out the compromise on how to build it, how heavy does it need to be, how solid does it need to be or how light it needs to be. We can make adjustments to the tool path, queue the job up and it takes care of the rest.

“Depending on the material, we have to go to a wash process. As it goes through and builds these layers, there is a little bit of a cleanup, but it is fairly minimal.

“We would take it, catalog it and then start implementing it.”

Once the NTT IndyCar Series returns to action, Marney will continue his role as senior development engineer. He helps with the team’s wind tunnel testing program. He is also involved in design work for electrical systems and other mechanical systems on the car.

As a project manager, he doesn’t have to travel to any race anymore. He was a road warrior until 2018. But if needed, his bags are packed to hit the road.

“If I need to fill in for somebody, I occasionally go to the track, but not on a regular basis,” he said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 


Stacks of Visor Frames

Single Face Shield Frame — Andretti Autosport Photo





2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top

SuperMotocross Rankings season opener
Align Media

As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.

Dylan Ferrandis finished on the podium in his first race back after experience a concussion in Supercross Round 4 at Houston. – Align Media

It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.

Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.

Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.

MORE: Jett Lawrence wastes no time, wins first 450 race

After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.

Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.

Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.

450 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Jett Lawrence (26) 93.33 NA
2. Chase Sexton (1) 92.36 1 -1
3. Dylan Ferrandis (19) 89.00 NA
4. Adam Cianciarulo (8) 82.89 5 1
5. Aaron Plessinger (5) 81.20 9 4
6. Justin Hill (9)
Not racing MX
79.75 8 2
7. Ken Roczen (4)
injured | Not racing MX
79.13 3 -4
8. Jose Butron (30) 75.67 NA
9. Lorenzo Locurcio (29) 75.00 NA
10. Eli Tomac (2)
74.50 2 -8
11. Dean Wilson (10)
Not racing MX
72.88 7 -4
12. Cooper Webb (3) 71.17 6 -6
13. Jerry Robin (32) 70.33 NA
14. Justin Barcia (6)
70.00 4 -10
15. Kyle Chisholm (15) 65.36 11 -4
16. Dante Oliveira (36) 65.00 NA
17. Shane McElrath (11)
Not racing MX
63.63 12 -5
18. Ryan Surratt (38) 63.33 NA
19. Josh Hill (13)
Not racing MX
62.38 13 -6
20. Justin Starling (20)
Not racing MX
62.13 19 -1

Motocross 450 Points

A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.

Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.

Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.

Motocross 250 Points

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan scored a second-place finish in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.

Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.

250 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Hunter Lawrence (1) 89.56 2 1
2. Justin Cooper (42) 84.67 NA
3. RJ Hampshire (3) 83.67 3 0
3. Haiden Deegan (4) 83.67 8 5
5. Jo Shimoda (16) 82.33 7 2
6. Guillem Farres (46) 79.33 NA
7. Levi Kitchen (6) 79.11 5 -2
8. Max Anstie (5) 77.83 12 4
9. Max Vohland (8) 77.50 14 5
10. Enzo Lopes (10) 76.00 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg (13) 74.25 16 5
12. Carson Mumford (19) 71.22 17 5
13. Jordon Smith (7) 70.56 9 -4
14. Ryder DiFrancesco (48) 70.33 NA
15. Chris Blose (12) 67.00 13 -2
16. Chance Hymas (27) 66.00 19 3
17. Tom Vialle (9) 65.78 18 1
18. Jett Reynolds (55) 63.33 NA
19. Michael Mosiman (28) 62.33 20 1
20. Garrett Marchbanks (64) 59.00 NA

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Eli Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage