Protolabs helps win the race to develop key component for motorsport
Components for motorcycle racing need to be strong, reliable and are often produced in small quantities. So, when Mectronik needed to develop and produce a holder for the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU) to dampen vibrations during a race, they turned to Protolabs for help.
"The motorsport world," explains Claudio Gonella, President of Mectronik srl, "tends to pursue the best technologies on the market because of intense competition. Finding a solution at the forefront of technology could make or break a race".
The partnership between Protolabs and Mectronik was no accident. Protolabs is a leading supplier of medium- and low-volume parts and components with a turnaround time of just a few days thanks to fully digital order management and quick-turn processes; and Mectronik is a company that responds to the demand for high-quality components produced in small batches for a niche market.
Talking about the project Claudio says, "There was a need to build a lightweight, heat-resistant and high-quality anti-vibration mount without increasing the size of the ECU. One with a complex design yet manufactured in small volumes."
Following the request from Mectronik, Protolabs created an initial prototype of the ECU holder in fake silicone using polyjet 3D printing technology in just a few days. This first prototype was to validate the design and mechanical characteristics of the part.
Stefano Mosca, Protolabs Senior Account Manager said: "The continuous flow of information between us and Mectronik ensured that we were able to optimise the design of the part and start production of the mould ready to produce the parts within a few days. Having the material needed to meet the customer's performance requirements also played a major role, as at the time it was not readily available".
Following prototyping and testing, Protolabs used injection moulding to produce the parts from liquid silicone, which is a soft elastomer that dampens vibrations and is temperature resistant. The mould was made from aluminium using CNC machining so it was produced quickly ready for the production of the 250 parts required by the customer.
Explains Claudio, "Our customers lacked the in-house capabilities to develop a mount that would be robust and resist excessive vibration, however, thanks to Protolabs we were able to go from concept design to final production in less than 60 days.
"Protolabs worked with us from design optimisation through to prototyping and small series production, thanks to having the materials, technical expertise, and 3D printing and injection moulding from a single point of contact"
Claudio Gonella, President of Mectronik srl
With Protolabs help the project met its two-month start up deadline with the part delivered ready for the racing season to begin.
|At A Glance|
Mectronik wanted to build a mount for a racing motorbike’s engine electronic control unit that would be both robust and capable of dampening excessive vibrations. And they needed to do all of this in less than two months.
The initial design was streamlined through the 3D-printed prototype. After completing the mechanical testing and design validation phase, Protolabs began manufacturing the aluminium mould used to produce the 250 injection-moulded parts in silicone.
It took Mectronik less than 60 days to provide motorsport teams with the solution to install their own engine control unit and start the 2022 racing season.