Ford’s Daytona Prototype racecars head into battle with 3D-printed hardware

Ford Daytona Prototype EcoBoost engine with 3D-printed intake manifold
While it’s become less relevant to production cars in recent years, racing is still viewed by many as the ultimate crucible for automotive technology.

Ford apparently still thinks so. Over the past few months, it tested a new technology that’s been generating more than its share of buzz in one of the most demanding racing environments in existence.

The Blue Oval developed a 3D-printed intake manifold and other parts for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 used in its Tudor United SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype racers.

These cars – which use a version of the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine that reportedly influenced the new Ford GT’s motor – compete in endurance races that can last up to 24 hours. In this type of racing, durability and reliability are just as important as speed, if not more so.

In that respect, the Tudor series seems to make a pretty good testing ground for 3D printing, which has been demonstrated numerous times in automotive applications but hasn’t scaled up to mass production yet.

Local Motors 3D-printed entire car bodies at public shows. while Oak Ride National Laboratory recently printed its own Shelby Cobra replica out of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.

Ford’s use of 3D printing is a little smaller in scale. The most significant 3D-printed part on the Daytona Prototype EcoBoost engines is an intake manifold, which Ford says weighs less than a part made using conventional methods, and boasts better airflow properties.

It’s also stood up pretty well to the challenges of endurance racing. A car equipped with the 3D-printed manifold won the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in January, while another placed fourth at the Tudor race in Detroit this past weekend.

Ford claims to have purchased the first 3D printer ever made, in 1988. It originally printed prototype buttons, switches, and knobs with the machine.

While the ability of 3D printers to churn out prototype parts relatively quickly is proving handy in some applications, there’s no telling if it will ever make it to mainstream use.

At least there’s now evidence that 3D-printed parts can stand up to some motorsports-level abuse.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Cars

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Cars

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…