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Fast and wear-resistant

Custom-made component made using the igus® 3D print service


  • What was needed: Plastic pinion for engine tuning
  • Manufacturing process: igus® 3D printing service
  • Requirements: Short delivery time, robustness, wear resistance
  • Material: iglidur® I6
  • Industry: Automotive
  • Success for the customer: Faster custom part printed in less than 72 hours in a small number of pieces, little effort in the design, turning and machining of the component no longer necessary. The component is also reliable due to its robustness

Inspired by the Formula 1, the student teams of the "Formula Student Germany" construction competition compete with each other. For constructing their racing cars, the Formula Student Team from Weingarten near Ravensburg needed customised plastic pinions, among other things. These are used as chain tensioners in the chain drive. Unfortunately, pinions in special sizes have long delivery times and the classic production with machining is time-consuming. Here, the 3D printing service by igus® was able to provide quick help and produced the plastic pinions in less than 72 hours.   

Fast delivery thanks to online configurator and laser sintering procedure

The designers not only save time, because the online configurator enables the simple construction of a digital 3D model.  The special part production takes place via the so-called SLS process (selective laser sintering).  A coater spreads a very thin layer of plastic powder on a construction platform. The printer then uses a laser to fuse the powder wherever the component is to be produced according to the 3D model. The platform is then lowered by the thickness of a layer and the process starts again. After a few hours the printed pinion is finished. Thanks to the 3D printing, the usual turning and machining with the corresponding drawing department are eliminated," explains Richy Göser of the Weingarten Formula Student Team.  

"Probably the production with the 3D printer is also more economical in small quantities. " 

3D printed: Custom made plastic pinions made of wear-resistant iglidur® material

Robust components made of tribopolymers

For use as a chain tensioner in the chain drive of the motor, the pinion must be very tough. Here, too, the iglidur® tribopolymers demonstrate their strengths compared to ordinary polymers. The high-performance plastics were developed by igus® specifically for dynamic applications in the industry. In this case, the iglidur® I6 was used, which is more resistant to wear than common plastics for laser sintering printing. The wear resistance of this material was tested in the in-house test laboratory. The experts tested a worm wheel with 5 Nm torque and 12 rpm. The gear wheel made of polyamide 12, a classic material for laser sintering printing, failed after just 521 cycles due to its high coefficient of friction. The iglidur® I6, on the other hand, showed only minor wear after one million cycles and was fully functional. "Such tests show us that we can rely on the material," says Göser. "The previously used ball bearings in the chain drive held barely more than 20 kilometres - which is unsatisfactory because our longest race is 22 kilometres long. We expect much more robustness from the 3D printed sprockets from igus® in the 2019 season." " 

Formula Student racing cars with customised plastic pinions made of iglidur® high-performance polymers

Further application reports