Addressing key challenges with the help of 3D printing.
By bringing FDM in-house, Ducati cut 20 months from the development process of the engine designed for its Desmosedici race bike. A flagship success for the design team, the Desmosedici engine was designed and assembled in only 8 months. The company’s previous engine had taken 28 months to design and build when the majority of prototypes were outsourced to service bureaus.
Ducati wanted the Desmosedici to surpass its predecessor by providing the additional power necessary to continue its success in the MotoGP race series. Using two FDM prototyping systems, the design team built a prototype engine composed almost entirely of polycarbonate components. The design included a twin-cylinder oval-piston configuration, which engineers considered the best layout to add power while complying with MotoGP regulations. The engine would have the power and torque of a conventional twin-cylinder engine and have the additional performance necessary to compete with the multi-cylinder engines.
Then a change in strategy led engineers to reconsider cylinder configuration and redesign the engine with four round pistons that employ a two-by-two firing order that reproduces the working cycle of a twin-cylinder engine. The four pistons were configured in an L-shaped layout. This meant it would comply with existing MotoGP regulations while setting a new benchmark for the international motorcycle industry. The new engine design was again prototyped completely from polycarbonate.
“The accuracy and durability of the models enabled us to physically analyze each component, recognize design flaws, and rectify them quickly,” says Piero Giusti, R&D CAD Manager for Ducati Motor Holding Spa. “The FDM prototype engine gave us a more holistic view of the engine design than we’ve had with previous engines. It decreased the number of errors in the design and significantly sped up the development process.
“Having the polycarbonate prototype engine helped confirm the second design was the right decision. Our design team was able to quickly eliminate any technical concerns. More importantly, it was able to present the whole engine prototype to the organization and gain buy-in for its vision of the double twin- cylinder design.