1/19/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

Arevo Labs 3D Prints PEEK Composite Fuel Intake Runner for Racing Engine Project

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Fabricated by Arevo Labs, the Polimotor 2 engine component is said to be the first successful application of 3D printing with PEEK polymer.

Solvay Specialty Polymers has announced that the Polimotor 2 project, led by Matti Holtzberg, will feature a 3D-printed fuel intake runner fabricated from a reinforced grade of Solvay’s KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Arevo Labs produced the part using its Reinforced Filament Fusion technology, which enables 3D printing with reinforced PEEK polymers. The technical project aims to design and manufacture a next-generation, all-plastic engine for competitive racing in 2016.

“The intake runners in the original Polimotor engine were made from aluminum, but today the automotive industry relies almost entirely on injection molded nylon,” said Holtzberg, project leader and president of Composite Castings. “That choice of materials is changing now too, as automakers seek innovative new alternatives like Solvay’s PEEK that can withstand rising under-the-hood temperatures caused by the growing use of turbochargers and engine downsizing, both of which are resulting in higher specific power outputs.”

Replacing the original aluminum runner with PEEK is said to have reduced the part’s weight by 50 percent. The specific material chosen for Polimotor 2 was a custom-formulated grade of KetaSpire KT-820 PEEK reinforced by a 10 percent carbon fiber loading. KetaSpire PEEK offers good chemical resistance to automotive fuels as well as reliable mechanical performance at continuous-use temperatures ranging to 240°C (464°F). These qualities made it a highly suitable candidate for Polimotor 2’s fuel intake runner, which encounters temperatures reaching 150°C (302°F) near the pistons in the intake port. 

“The convergence of 3D printing with Solvay’s PEEK polymer technology in this application underscores how truly cutting-edge the Polimotor 2 project is,” said Brian Baleno, global automotive business manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “Neither of these technologies existed in the ’80s when Matti Holtzberg developed the first Polimotor engine; and now, with this runner, we see one of the very first carbon fiber-filled PEEK parts to be fabricated with the additive manufacturing process. That signals a whole new range of possibilities for automakers seeking lighter, but high-performing alternatives to metal.”