Formula Student

Formula Student

Physical Digital supports Formula Student Teams

Physical Digital®, the UK’s leading high-accuracy 3D scanning service provider, has supported a number of university race teams in preparing for the Formula Student competition.

Formula Student, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE), invites students from universities all over the world to take part in a challenge to design, build and race a single seat racing car. The teams are tasked to produce a prototype for a single-seat race car for autocross or sprint racing and present this to a hypothetical manufacturing organisation.

ATOS scan of race chassis

3D scanning a Formula Student chassis using GOM's highly-accurate ATOS 3D scanning system 

Automotive Expertise

Physical Digital’s engineering team has many years’ automotive 3D scanning, reverse engineering and testing experience, using the globally-respected GOM ATOS optical scanning systems. The basis for GOM’s 3D non-contact optical measurement is the principle of triangulation, using a pair of cameras capturing highly-accurate 3D data from a physical object.

Torsion testing

The most recent of the Formula Student projects undertaken by our expert engineering team, using the GOM TRITOP photogrammetry system to capture high-accuracy data vital for design amendments, weight reduction, torsion analysis and other applications.

Our engineers placed coded and un-coded markers on the chassis of the race car and captured an initial measurement by taking a number of images with a DSLR camera from different angles around the chassis. This initial measurement was aligned to the 3D CAD model using a pre-determined datum system. Inspection was then carried out on the actual chassis as compared to the designed model.

Chassis Deviation Points

Torsion testing on the Formula Student chassis to show displacement

The Formula Student team wanted to correlate the results of the actual torsion tests with the FEA model which had been designed in CAD and tested theoretically. Mass was added to a bar placed across the front axle and subsequent measurements were taken in order to inspect the displacement of points throughout the test.

The images captured by the TRITOP photogrammetry system were uploaded within minutes, allowing the measurements to be completed within about an hour, providing full inspection within a much quicker timescale than traditional methods. With access to this data, the students were able to detect potentially weak areas in the design of the chassis and add extra material to strengthen it or reduce material in stronger areas to save weight.

 Chassis In Torsion Test With Photogrammetry Images

Photogrammetry images show displacement of the race car chassis 

3D scanning and reverse engineering to improve sump design

Another University team wanted to improve the design of their engine’s sump using 3D scan data captured by the GOM ATOS 3D scanning system.  Instead of measuring single points with manual methods or a laser, the ATOS system captures the object’s full surface geometry and primitives precisely in a dense point cloud or polygon mesh. The GOM technology offers accurate 3D scans with detailed resolution at high speeds, giving repeatable and traceable data. The advanced 3D scanning hardware is integrated with powerful and reliable software for testing and inspection.

Formula Student1

Reverse engineered model of the existing engine

The team also gained CAD models supplied by our dedicated in-house design team. Our design engineers have extensive experience in reverse engineering across a wide variety of industry sectors. Reverse engineering is the process of creating a 3D model or 2D engineering drawings from the 3D scan data captured by optical measurement.  Reverse engineering was necessary as the university team’s previous race car suffered cooling problems so the team wanted to prevent these by using a dry sump which allows separation of the oil for enhanced cooling.

Liverpool Uni engine

Our in-house design team produces highly-accurate CAD models

The new engine CAD produced by Physical Digital’s team supplied an accurate datum model that meant that when the team designed a new component they were confident that it would fit perfectly to the physical race car. 

Formula Student – a valuable project for students, universities and employers

Formula Student, Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition, aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. Since its inaugural event in 1998, the competition has taken place at the end of the academic year with the annual racing event hosted at Silverstone Circuit since July 2007.

The car designed by each student team needs to be low cost, reliable and easy to maintain, with high performance in accelerating, handling and braking. Each vehicle is put through its paces in a range of static and dynamic events in order to demonstrate the team’s understanding and test the car’s performance.  Cars are judged on a range of criteria including: design; cost and sustainability; tilt, brake and noise testing; technical and safety evaluation. In addition, the car undertakes race testing including a figure of 8 skid pad, sprint and acceleration racing, endurance and fuel economy.

For the students, the challenge is a valuable project blending academic studies and formal learning with the development of practical engineering skills. Formula Student is valued by universities and often forms part of the students’ final-year project. The motorsport industry views the challenge as the standard for engineering students to achieve, enabling them to transfer skills from their studies to the workplace.

Our experienced and highly-trained team can enhance and speed up projects across a broad range of industries including automotive, art, aerospace, medical and marine. Contact us to discuss your requirements or to receive a free quote, or call 01483 750200 and speak to one of the team today.




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