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Society of Manufacturing Engineers to Feature Prodrive and the MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car Program at RAPID 2012

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Design engineers shift gears as the motorsport and automobile industries move from traditional manufacturing methods to high-speed 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies.

DEARBORN, Mich., March 29, 2012 — The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) today announced details about Prodrive's development of the MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car (WRC) and a keynote presentation to be given by Paul Doe at the RAPID 2012 Conference and Exposition, May 22-25 in Atlanta. Prodrive’s highly specialized use of 3D printing will reveal the future of manufacturing and appeal to any organization looking to capitalize on additive manufacturing technologies that speed new products to market.

“Additive technologies are instrumental for many manufacturers and product development companies, and we’re excited to showcase Prodrive’s 3D printing success story with Paul Doe’s keynote presentation at RAPID 2012,” said SME business development manager Gary Mikola.

Prodrive is one of the world's leading motorsport businesses and is responsible for the design and engineering of the MINI John Cooper Works World Rally Car. The company uses additive manufacturing to accelerate the development of the race car and reduce production costs. Prodrive’s 3D printers created functional prototyping, rapid tooling and end-use parts with polycarbonate and ABS materials direct from CAD (computer-aided design) files.

“3D printing is an important part of our design and development process that has massively reduced our reaction time,said Prodrive chief design engineer Paul Doe. “The technology allows us to produce new parts for the test car within hours of a problem or need being discovered.”

During his presentation, Doe will share how the MINI John Cooper Works WRC team relied heavily on 3D printing throughout the car's two-year development cycle. To design the test car, engineers used additive technologies to create large parts of the engine bay, multiple display housings, gearbox, steering assembly, vehicle interior and even engine components. In addition to prototyping parts for the test track, the team 3D printed end-use parts for the finished car. The ergonomically styled gearshift display and control panel, which is mounted on the steering column, are the WRC’s most visible 3D printing examples.

“3D printing has created opportunities to innovate that were previously considered a dead-end without a significant investment in tooling and has freed our team from the constraints that are applied when manufacturing by more traditional production methods,” says Doe. 

Attendees will discover how Prodrive’s WRC program was one-fifth the cost of similar projects that specified traditional manufacturing methods. As a result of these cost savings, the number of parts produced by additive manufacturing technologies for Prodrive’s development programs continues to increase.

“3D printing improved our overall prototyping and manufacturing process by giving our team the ability to make high-performance, end-use components that would have been very expensive to produce by any other method. The simplicity of 3D printing combined with the relatively low cost of materials make it the obvious choice for manufacturing parts and offers significant advantages to our program,” Doe added

Paul Doe has 15 years of experience in race vehicle design, working at the forefront of the World Rally Championship with Mitsubishi, Subaru and MINI. He also worked with Aston Martin Racing in the development of the 2009 Le Mans Series winning DBR1-2 LMP1 car.

For more information, please visit: www.sme.org/rapid.

SME RAPID News:
To receive the latest up-to-the-minute SME news, subscribe to the SME News Feed. Follow @RAPID_Event on Twitter, Circle Rapid Conference & Exposition on Google+ and Like on Facebook to receive conference updates.

About RAPID:
RAPID is North America's definitive additive manufacturing conference and exposition. The event brings buyers, sellers and end-users of design, prototyping, tooling and direct manufacturing technologies together in an environment that facilitates networking and business interaction. Attendees can evaluate the latest materials and machinery, compare processes, talk to industry experts and make valuable contacts. Exhibitors can meet new customers, discuss projects face-to-face and generate sales. For more information, visit: www.sme.org/rapid.

About SME:
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the premier source for manufacturing knowledge, education and networking. Through its many programs, events, activities and online training division, Tooling U, SME connects manufacturing practitioners to each other, to the latest technologies and to the most up-to-date manufacturing processes. SME has members around the world and is supported by a network of chapters and technical communities. A 501(c)3 organization, SME is a leader in manufacturing workforce development issues, working with industry, academic and government partners to support the current and future skilled workforce.

About Prodrive:
Prodrive is one of the world's largest and most successful motorsport and automotive technology businesses, with more than 700 staff operating in Europe, Australia and Asia. Today the company runs motorsport programs for Aston Martin Racing in world sports car racing, Ford Performance Racing in the Australian V8 Supercar Series and MINI in the World Rally Championship. The company also works with vehicle manufacturers to help develop new technologies and performance vehicles for the road, and is increasingly involved in the aerospace, marine and defense industries, manufacturing specialist components for applications as diverse as commercial passenger aircraft, satellites, racing yachts and high-end audio. For more information, visit: www.prodrive.com.

MINI WRC Team Details:
In 2011, the MINI WRC Team debuted two Prodrive-built John Cooper Works WRCs, complete with their BMW Motorsport 1.6-litre turbo engines, at the FIA World Rally Championship in Rally, Italy. The team was founded by team principal David Richards, who was himself a very successful rally co-driver. Under the guidance of new team principal Dave Wilcock, the MINI WRC Team will tackle a partial program of events in 2012 and prepare for a full title bid in 2013. Driving number 37 is Spain's Dani Sordi who is set to be an ever-present in the team’s driver line-up alongside a series of guest pilots. Driving number 52 is Ireland’s Kris Meeke whose schedule is dependent upon additional sponsorships. For more information, visit: http://www.minimotorsport.com/en/wrc/car.

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If you have questions about the press release or need additional information, please contact SME Public Relations at communications@sme.org.