Art Center Students Win Award for Rubber Band Car

Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design is well-known for producing top-notch automotive designers. Automotive students are encouraged to practice their craft through many mediums, including the annual and highly popular Formula-E Rubber Band Car race at Art Center. We recently visited the campus for a tour of Art Center’s extensive work shops, filled to the brim with CNC machines, mills, table saws, band saws and students working furiously (and meticulously gluing an impressive range of mysterious objects). Stratasys Direct Manufacturing proudly sponsored a team of students during the school’s miniature rubber band car race this year, 2014.


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“Our team focused on creating a vehicle that would combine all our past engineering education with the sculptural and aesthetic expertise taught at Art Center."

“Our team focused on creating a vehicle that would combine all our past engineering education with the sculptural and aesthetic expertise taught at Art Center,” explains Max Greenberg. Max and his fellow team mates each arrived at Art Center with varying degrees in mechanical engineering fields. “We drew inspiration from mid-1950s Formula-I cars as well as the truss structures found inside the bones of a bird’s wing. These structures are both light and rigid, ideal properties for the car we wanted to design.”

The rubber band cars are powered by a 16ft rubber band that propels the car forward at upwards of 30mph for a few hundred feet. Two servos enable braking and steering. The design challenge involved keeping the car lightweight with an original composition. The team prototyped their car using Z-Corp; however the Z-Corp prototypes exploded during a trial run. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing provided the team with a more durable 3D printing material, Nylon 12, using Laser Sintering (LS) technology. “The LS technology at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing allowed us to be completely unconstrained in developing the geometry, without any consideration for removing support material or post-processing,” says Greenberg. “The part came straight out of the machine ready for assembly with a beautiful finish.”

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing 3D printed seven units for Greenberg and his team, including the wheels, main body and front and back nose cone. The team then inserted a carbon fiber tube to the main frame. The tube encapsulated the rubber band itself, which is wound tight and released via remote control to propel the car forward.

The team won two awards for their organic design, including the Axial Racing Design award and the Eckles Design, Build and Approach Award. The challenge took place in early August.

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