Creating Engine Envy with Evans Motorsport Performance
- EMP worked with Fast Radius to design an aesthetically pleasing strut tower cover for the Chevrolet Corvette C8
- Using the Carbon DLS™ process, EMP saved thousands of dollars per part over CNC machining
- Fast Radius was able to produce an entire production run for EMP in five days
Based in Burlington, North Carolina, Evans Motorsport Performance (EMP) has been building custom performance parts for Mustangs and Corvettes since 1989. Recently, EMP designed a specialty aftermarket part for the new Chevrolet Corvette C8. Demand for the part was high; however, the complex design proved difficult and costly to manufacture. With the help of Carbon production partner Fast Radius, EMP found a solution that made low-volume production with automotive-quality materials feasible.
Enhancing the Corvette C8 Experience Under the Engine Hood
Corvette C8 owners understandably want to show off their engines. However, the C8 has a rusted bolt on top of the strut tower cover that detracts from the appearance of the engine. EMP recognized an opportunity to solve this problem for C8 owners when a customer came asking for a cover for the bolt.
The strut tower on the new Corvette C8 is an unattractive, complex piece to cover. EMP deftly created a design after 3D scanning the area and impressed their original customer with a few prototypes made using FDM. EMP originally planned to machine the cover out of aluminum, but the part’s complexity made it prohibitively expensive and challenging — if not impossible — to make.
In addition, EMP wanted to offer custom colors and a modification for Mag-Ride Corvettes (which involved drilling a hole), both of which would be time consuming and costly to do with aluminum. EMP tried to make end-use parts with their prototyping printer but soon realized they weren’t able to achieve the performance needed.
That’s when EMP turned to Fast Radius. After evaluating several 3D printing processes and materials with Fast Radius, EMP settled on the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis™ (Carbon DLS™) 3D printing process and EPX 82 material. Fast Radius printed a single prototype for EMP that fit over the strut tower perfectly, allowing the two companies to immediately move into production.
“We were amazed at the customer service, speed, and price we got with Fast Radius — not to mention the complexity we could achieve with the Carbon DLS process. Without Fast Radius, we wouldn’t have been able to make this part.”
Travis EvansCo-Owner, EMP
Cost-effective Low-volume Production
EMP originally planned to machine the part from aluminum, but the part would be prohibitively expensive at more than $4,800 per set due to its complex design. Injection molding would provide a cheaper cost per part, but only if EMP made enough parts to offset the cost of the molds, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars. EMP and Fast Radius spent about a month and a half evaluating different additive processes before settling on the Carbon DLS process. Using Carbon DLS, EMP was able to create high-quality parts well within their budget, even for a small initial production run.
Materials that Perform
While the bolt cover is a cosmetic part that doesn’t affect the car’s performance, it needs to withstand temperatures approaching 200˚F. This ruled out CNC and injection molding as viable manufacturing options so EMP tried to produce the parts with their prototyping 3D printer. However, the available materials (PLA and ABS) could not withstand the harsh engine conditions. After looking into several materials, Fast Radius suggested Carbon EPX 82, a rigid material popular in the auto industry for its heat and chemical resistance. EPX 82 provided the performance EMP required and was much easier to finish and paint than aluminum.
A Manufacturing Process You Can Depend On
The part EMP designed is quite complex, and there was a high risk that many of the parts would fail with CNC machining. Because the Carbon DLS process is entirely digital, it produces identical, reliable parts every time. With Carbon DLS, EMP knew that Fast Radius would make all their parts consistently to spec.
Rapid On-demand Manufacturing
Had EMP opted to machine the parts, the initial order would have taken months to finish. However, with the Carbon DLS process, Fast Radius was able to print and ship EMP’s order within days. EMP is still trying to understand the demand for the new part in the market, making it difficult to know how much inventory they need. However, with the Fast Radius Virtual Warehouse, EMP can store the part design in the cloud and order parts as they need them without worrying about running out of stock or holding excess inventory.
The strut tower cover created by EMP has proven extremely popular with Corvette C8 owners, and the part is now selling through EMP’s suppliers and distributors in the US and around the world. EMP plans to continue collaboration with Fast Radius to explore using the Carbon DLS process to create even more parts in their catalog.