High performance vehicles are subjected to a high level of loads during short time intervals. Due this situation, manufacturing procedures that conventionally are used in the automotive industry commonly do not achieve the design specifications defined to maximize the overall performance of the vehicle. This situation is highlighted when the overall performance of the system depends on a compromise between variables. The research developed by a German motorsport team aimed to fix the overheating problem found on the front brake system of a Formula SAE prototype using topology optimization combined with the manufacturing processes called Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) to develop and fabricate a new 4 piston monoblock brake caliper.
The DMLS process is based on powder metallurgy, using an Yb-fibre laser to melt a powder material and generate the product by a progressive deposition of layers. This process stands out from the other due the capability to produce complex geometry, imposing virtually no geometric restriction for the design. Furthermore, this process ensures high relative density to the final product, and eliminates the use of dies, being ideal to the manufacture of prototypes. These advantages allow a design of a new brake caliper through concepts that would not be viable by conventional manufacturing processes. A topologic design optimization was performed in order to identify potential project variables. The average temperature of the new caliper reduced in 11% and the heat transfer mechanism was improved. Furthermore, the new caliper had a 9% of mass reduction for a given stiffness.