3D printing to help Bloodhound SSC break 1,000 mph


August 13, 2013

The BLOODHOUND SSC hopes to reach speeds of more than 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h) in 2015 with its 3D-printed nose tip

The BLOODHOUND SSC hopes to reach speeds of more than 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h) in 2015 with its 3D-printed nose tip

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The Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC) team from the UK is continuing its journey towards claiming the world land speed record. After testing its rocket engine last year, the team has turned to 3D printing technology for another critical part of the high speed vehicle – a tip that, if all goes well, will be the first part of the car to break through the 1,000 mph (1,610 km/h) mark in 2015.

To print the titanium tip, the team is using Renishaw's AM250 manufacturing-grade laser melting machine, which is used to 3D print prototypes and components that require heavy-duty construction. This process is also known as laser sintering and essentially involves fusing fine layers of metallic powders together with a high-power laser beam.

As the Bloodhound SSC attempts to break the land speed record of 763 mph (1,228 km/h) set in 1997, the 3D-printed tip will be subject to forces as high as 12 tonnes per square meter. The 3D printing process allowed the team to create a titanium tip that is hollow and features walls of varying thickness to reduce weight, but is rigid enough to withstand the stresses of a 1,000 mph run.

"To machine this component conventionally would be extremely challenging, result in design compromises, and waste as much as 95 percent of the expensive raw material," explains Dan Johns, lead engineer on the project.

The tip will be bonded to the vehicle's carbon fiber monocoque body, which will be propelled by the rear-mounted rocket engine. The Bloodhound SSC is now being assembled at the Bloodhound Technical Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, which opened July 4.

The video below discusses the importance of 3D printing to the development the Bloodhound SSC.

Source: Renishaw


Sir Malcolm would be thrilled!

They ought to build full scale orange 3D plastic nose cones and sell them to raise money for the effort.

We can only wish them good luck and Godspeed.


Lewis Dickens

Good idea. Another might be to 3D print out scale models of the vehicle itself.

Mark Keller

Just because there are some disks that they call wheels doesn't make it a car. It is a rocket and shouldn't be considered a land speed record. Are there two wheels up front? If so probably right next to each other. Doesn't count IMO.

Just put some roller blades under a Saturn 5 rocket laying down, strap some poor guy to it, and smash the land speed record forever.

Andrew Zuckerman

Merriam-Webster defines "car" as "a vehicle moving on wheels". It makes no stipulation as to the method of motive power, nor does it mention the position of the wheels.

So, just as Bloodhound SSC qualifies within the terms of the above definition, so would your skateboard mounted Saturn 5 with some poor guy strapped to it. Well, it would for as long as the trucks lasted. I don't think there are any made that are capable of taking the punishment that two runs at 1000+ mph would mete out.

By all means try it though - if you can get your hands on the Saturn 5 of course.


Ooops, my apologies. that should have been roller blades, not skateboards. However, the same comment regarding durability of the wheels applies.

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