The McLaren car in the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. The McLaren car in the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix. The McLaren MCL32 on track during practice for the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix in April. (Photo: Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Storied F1 racing team hopes 3D printing can give it an edge up

McLaren is printing parts in the pit in an effort to make it to the winner's circle.

What happens on the track tells only a small part of what it takes to win in F1 racing. In order to stay ahead of the competition, teams must constantly innovate to give themselves a technological edge.

So it should come as no surprise that the McLaren Formula One race team has partnered with American-Israeli 3D printing firm Stratasys to print parts for their MCL32 F1 car on-site during races.

This means McLaren can develop, print and implement a new part, all in a single race weekend, where before it took weeks or even months to do.

"If we can bring new developments to the car one race earlier – going from new idea to new part in only a few days – this will be a key factor in making the McLaren MCL32 more competitive," said McLaren Racing Design and Development Director Neil Oatley.

The MCL32, designed and constructed to compete in the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship, began using Stratasys parts like carbon-fiber reinforced hydraulic lines, radio cables and brake cooling ducts at the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.

Stratasys seemed the natural fit to help McLaren implement this innovative approach, having proved its competency in everything from Hollywood movies to making medical devices.

As for the rest of us, don't expect 3D-printed parts to show up in cars too soon. While the Ford Motor Company has begun using large 3D-printed parts from Stratsys in concept cars, they've yet to make their way into consumer vehicles.

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Storied F1 racing team hopes 3D printing can give it an edge up
The McLaren Formula One race team partners with 3D printing firm Stratasys to make parts in the pit for their MCL32 F1 car.