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

Andretti Autosport Photo
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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 NBCSports.com. “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

 

 

 

 

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi