Interview on Elefant Racing’s Journey in Formula Student with Xometry Partnership

Discover how precision manufacturing from Xometry enhances the performance of Elefant Racing’s motors, ensuring optimal reliability and efficiency on the track during participation in a Formula Student competition.
  • Industry: Automotive
  • Manufacturing processes used: CNC machining
  • Challenge: Elefant Racing encountered a task in sourcing a manufacturing partner capable of meeting the tight tolerances and complexity required for their aluminum end shields, which are essential for supporting the rotor and maintaining precise alignment within their hub motors.
  • Solution: Partnering with Xometry, Elefant Racing ensured precise manufacturing, enhancing their race car’s performance and reliability.

Formula Student is an engineering competition that challenges student teams from universities worldwide to design, build, and race formula-style cars. Elefant Racing, a dynamic team participating in this competition, stands out for their commitment to in-house development, tackling challenges from engine design to aerodynamics. 

In our recent interview with Annika Hilgert from Elefant Racing e.V., he shared insights into their collaborative process and the role Xometry plays in manufacturing crucial components, such as the aluminum end shields for their hub motors. 

Elefant Racing team © Elefant Racing
Elefant Racing team © Elefant Racing

Inside Formula Student: Elefant Racing’s Journey and Challenges

Xometry: What exactly is Formula Student and how is your team Elefant Racing involved in this competition?

Annika Hilgert: Formula Student is a student competition involving universities and colleges from all over the world. The objective is to build a formula racing car within a year. Most of the teams now rely on electric drive. However, there are still a few teams that have installed a combustion engine. In the summer, events are held on racetracks all over the world, where the teams and their cars compete against each other in various disciplines. There are not only Dynamic events in which the car and driver have to prove their skills, but also Static ones, for example a cost breakdown of the car or a business plan is required. 

Xometry: What specific challenges does your team face when participating in Formula Student?

Annika Hilgert: Our team’s philosophy is to develop and manufacture as much of the car as possible ourselves, which is why we have a higher degree of in-house development than most teams. We are currently developing all the components ourselves, from the on-board computer and the battery management system to the planetary gears and the hub motors. We are a small team with around 20 active members, so this obviously involves a considerable amount of work for us.

Fr 23 Freya vehicle © Elefant Racing
Fr 23 Freya vehicle © Elefant Racing

Team Approach to Developing a Vehicle

Xometry: How does your team work together to develop a competition vehicle from scratch?

Annika Hilgert: Our team is divided into sub-teams that deal with specific areas of the car and the club. We have an executive board, which is responsible for the overall organisation and coordination, and a business team, which is responsible for social media, finding sponsors or financial and legal matters. The technical sub-teams include the Mechanics team, which is responsible for the chassis and builds our CFRP monocoque, for example. The Vehicle Dynamics team takes care of the chassis, the braking system, the wheel unit and the steering. The Electrics team is responsible for all HV and LV electronics, including the battery, the motors and the inverters. Then there is the aerodynamics team, which deals with the aerodynamic parts such as the front and rear wings.

Xometry: What role does engine development play in your Formula Student project and how does your approach differ from other teams?

Annika Hilgert: Most teams buy their engines and naturally have the advantage that they have less work to do and use a ready-made system that is less fault-prone. That being said, our aim is to ultimately understand and develop all of the car’s components through our high level of in-house development. Of course, this can result in errors. For example, we had the problem with the penultimate generation of engines that we experienced bearing damage after high engine speeds due to the thermal expansion of the aluminium shaft, which then led to the wheel locking. In the last generation, we adjusted the dimensions of the shaft slightly and used titanium as the shaft material and fortunately no longer had any problems. This season we have made the motors shorter again and optimised the weight, including the end shields, which are now even more intricate.

Enhancing Elefant Racing’s Motor Performance through Collaboration with Xometry

Xometry: Which parts does Xometry manufacture for you?

Annika Hilgert: Xometry manufactures the aluminium end shields for our hub motors. These virtually seal off the motor from the transmission and the HV cabling. The rotor is also supported by the end shields.

Drive-end shield

HV-end shield

Xometry: What made you decide to get help from Xometry?

Annika Hilgert: It’s difficult to find a manufacturing partner, especially for complicated parts where tight tolerances are important. That’s why we turned to Xometry last season to help with the production of our end shields for the motors.

Xometry: What impact has the quality of the parts manufactured by Xometry had on the performance of your motors?

Annika Hilgert: The end shields are very important parts that have to be manufactured as accurately as possible to the tolerances. They support the rotor and absorb the torque of the rotor. If these parts were manufactured inaccurately, there would be a risk of bearing or transmission damage.

Xometry: How was your overall experience with Xometry?

Annika Hilgert: Our experience with Xometry has been excellent. The end shields that Xometry manufactured last season arrived on time and fitted perfectly, we even managed to come third in the acceleration race in the Czech Republic with our self-developed motors. We hope that we can continue to improve our performance with the next generation of motors and the new end shields from Xometry.

Fr 23 Freya vehicle © Elefant Racing
Fr 23 Freya vehicle © Elefant Racing

More About Elefant Racing

Elefant Racing is the Formula Student Team of the University of Bayreuth. The aim of the association and Formula Student is to support the education of students of engineering, economics, sciences and media studies.

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