The advantage of 3D printing for engines in motorsport –


Probably most associated with Formula 1, motor racing is the fastest and one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world. The production technology for motorsport, in particular, is at the forefront of innovation in manufacturing techniques. Under development with car manufacturers, manufacturer of industrial 3D printers INTAMSYS has also engaged in advanced manufacturing processes, thus confirming its competitive position in the additives market.

Hartley Engines and Motorsport of New Zealand is a leading company in the design, development and manufacture of high-end engines and components for motorsport and small automotive businesses. Some of their achievements include numerous championship victories with their motorsport clients all over New Zealand and Australia, several land speed records at Bonneville (in a 1000cc Mini, among others) and numerous awards for innovation in motorsport engineering. Their flagship engines include their 10,000 rpm, 1,000+ HP V12 and high-revving “Formula 1-inspired” four-cam V8.

In the past, their core business had always been producing engines for the top teams in top-level competition, with most of their development kept incredibly secret and restricted to select customers. Recently they decided to supply engine kits and develop other engine developers. They have also just started selling more of their components to general consumers around the world for use in their own projects.

“We realized that we simply couldn’t or didn’t want to build engines for every competitor. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day. But we found we could provide better service to everyone by making our range of components and development available to everyone,” said Nelson Hartley, owner of Hartley Engines.

One of the strengths of Hartley Engines is its ability to design and develop products very quickly and get them ready for production. Their factory consists of 5-axis CNC milling machines, CNC lathes, engine dynos, and air flow test equipment, to name a few machine parts. Recently they have taken it to the next level with additive manufacturing of production parts.

Nelson Hartley (right) discusses design ideas in the FUNMAT HT workshop

Nelson and his team have been developing the use of 3D-printed parts in their engines for several years, and while they’ve passed the tests, have struggled to get them to the point of “production-ready.”

“Early on, I identified some serious benefits of using 3D printing. The material properties of some of the high-end polymers are really impressive and perfect for things like our intake manifolds and induction parts.

As designers and engineers, they found new ways to use printed parts alongside billet parts and carbon composite parts in what Nelson calls a “hybrid manufacturing method.”

While the COVID pandemic has had an effect on their in-house production, a job on the roster from Hartley Engines and Motorsport was to redesign the throttle bodies that were used on their intakes. The individual throttle bodies are one piece billet aluminum, machined in-house, but the secret to their intake are the 3D-printed intake runners and trumpets.

“The material we use for our intake runners is high temperature nylon (PA), with 25% carbon fiber…The way PA-CF handles temperature outperforms aluminum, it transfers heat very slowly, keeping our intake path very cool, aiding combustion once cool air enters the engine.

“The added bonus of 3D printing our runners and trumpets is design flexibility. We take the intake shape very seriously. It’s not just a round hole machined into a piece of plate. We can print in 3D extremely complex curves and shapes that align with the CAD models of our cylinder heads.

Before receiving their first INTAMSYS FUNMAT HTHartley Engines’ success rate in printing high-temperature polymers was around 15-20%.

“We were wasting more prints than we could afford, and when some plastics were over $500/kg (plus freight to New Zealand) it became impossible to print the parts. I knew it could work, but we just couldn’t get it to work every time.

“Since we took delivery of our first INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT, we have had a 95% success rate with our impressions…I have had many people in the industry tell me that there is no there was no way to make production parts on a 3D printer, but INTAMSYS proved that wrong!

Racing engine using a hybrid of 3D printed parts, billet parts, and prepreg carbon fiber parts

Since purchasing their first INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT, Hartley Engines have since received their second machine and are now building a dedicated additive manufacturing department in their shop with the intention of installing two to four more INTAMSYS FUNMAT HTs once they will be ready.

As their business grows, Hartley Engines and Motorsport is always faced with the problem of getting parts to market as quickly as possible. Everything they do is unique and requires new approaches to solving problems.

“Anyone who says 3D printers are going to replace all CNC machines is lying, but, similarly, anyone who says you can’t do production work on a profitable 3D printer like our INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT is short-sighted”

“Our INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT was literally 1/30and the cost of our 5 axis CNC machine and the parts we make there are just as valuable to the consumer… So even though the time per part is much slower on the printer, I can afford to have multiple printers in works at the same time in the batch job. It actually becomes more efficient in some cases than setting up CNC machines. Our return on investment has been extremely high!

As anyone who has worked with traditional manufacturing methods knows, setup and tooling are both expensive and time-consuming.

“Before, we spent hours setting up our machines and making tools just to machine or make a part. Now all I have to do is heat up the INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT and press start. No tools or setup required.

3D printing is also used to make the plenum of a turbo engine. Shown on the left of the images below is a composite tooling for the part, first printed in a few segments, then assembled with the entire surface carefully polished. The one on the right is a high performance end product made from the composite tooling after going through the entire carbon fiber laying and curing process.

After using the INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT, Hartley Engines and Motorsport said they were already confident the printed part would be very good, but were amazed at its performance. Nelson said, “The quality of our high temperature parts is amazing, and we’re just starting to go into production with the parts we sell… We’ve been developing this for about 3-4 years, and since we got the INTAMSYS FUNMAT HT we were able to solve 99% of the problems we had before.

Now, with a greater range of sizes, more space for linkages and with faster production in mind, the next step is to run through the long list of intake manifolds and plena that Hartley Engines and Motorsport designs, using this new lean manufacturing method they developed.


INTAMSYS’ all-in-one 3D printing solutions carry the ambition to make future lives fully customizable thanks to the endless possibilities offered by the additive manufacturing industry. Meeting the most demanding industry standards, INTAMSYS 3D printers are optimized for applications in industries as diverse as automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, medical and education.

Contact: [email protected]


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