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  • George Tsakonopoulos

One of the most advanced intake manifolds.

TPE Precision is an engineering company focusing on RnD of automotive high performance solutions. The retail part of our business is just a small percentage of our work. Our core business model is RnD and engineering. What we learn throughout our RnD program we transmit it on to our customers and future projects.


This time we have designed an intake manifold that is completely out of the box. We have taken an entire different approach (compared to others) in this project utilizing advance 3D printing, CNC machining and composites technologies . The plan is to develop three different working versions with various technologies, manufacturing methods and materials.

· First version is a 3D printed one manufactured using MJF 3D printing. The material is PA12 Nylon. The objective in this version was to manufacture an intake using only 3D printing.


HP MJF printed intake manifold.



· Second version: Two Way Hybrid. We call it this way as it is combination of billet aluminum parts and MJF PA12 Nylon. All flanges, brackets and sensor mounts are billet and the core of the manifold is 3D printed.


Two way hybrid intake manifold.


· Third version: Three way hybrid. This manifold version is a combination of three materials, carbon fiber, MJF pa12 nylon and billet aluminum. *Under development.


At this point we would like to thank all the partners that helped us to make this project a reality.

3DHUB – 3DPrinting



TRS Performance – ECU Calibration



CFC CarbonFiberCustoms – Composites

P-Motorsports – CNC Machining


Dynoworx – Dyno



The 3D printer we used is an industrial MJF printer: HP Jet Fusion 5200


Cleaning station of HP5200 printer

Basic Machine Specs:

Building speedUp to 4115 cm³/hr (251 in³/hr)

Layer thickness 0.08 mm (0.003 in)

Job processing resolution (x, y) 600 dpi

Print resolution (x, y) 1200 dpi


Material: PA12


Why Nylon 12? Nylon 12 is fuel and oil resistant which makes it ideal for our application plus it has a working temperature of 140 degrees Celsius.


TPE Precision is one of the first to make such an intake manifold for actual use, as most companies use them only as demo parts.

So far companies that used this technology for their intake manifold (as far as we are aware) are:


Ford Motors (Le Mans 24hr)

Race: Daytona 24hr

Car: Ford Daytona Prototype

3.5 litre EcoBoost



Heli racing team (BMW 120d)

Race: Belgian Gentleman Drivers Club (BGDC) and Belcar’s Belgian Endurance Championship



Printed intake manifold. Printer: MJF HP 5200


Why it is difficult to make a working MJF printed manifold:

· The print itself, is exceptionally perplexing. Since it is affected by orientation, product shape, thickness, temperature and final application.

· PA12 is a flexible material. The manifold cannot be flexible thus the design of the manifold is crucial to avoid any deflection under hard acceleration, extreme heat, or installation.

· The manifold needs to be designed in a way that it can be machined. The part needs machining to create completely flat surfaces where flanges will be used.

· The actual sealing between the manifold and the aluminum parts of the engine bay becomes puzzling due to the flexy nature of this material. Unfortunately, the OE flanges cannot provide the required sealing. We designed and manufactured our own Viton flanges with completely new torque specs.



Our Approach:

The OE unit is an aluminum casted manifold. Casted parts need to have a thickness of at least 5 mm. The OE manifold in the r53 MINI is not an exception with it's thickness varies between 6mm and 8mm. The TPE Precision version is redesigned with a maximum plenum thickness of 3mm. By doing that we managed to increase the internal volume of the manifold without altering the outside dimensions. The overall size of our manifold is the same as the OE unit. Our changes though didn’t just stop in the internal volume. The runners are completely redesigned in order to accommodate the increased internal volume. Increased internal radius, altered angles and increased cross section area are points we had to re-engineer.



MJF printed manifold.

Generic Design:

In our design (version 1 , MJF printed manifold). we utilized generic design in order to reduce the overall component flexibility. Decreasing the overall thickness can result in a very flexible part. Using generic design we manage to introduce geometries (that we couldn’t if it wasn’t for the 3D printing technology) that made the part more robust without increasing the thickness.


Fitment:

Factory like fitment (plug and play) is achieved by using technologies such as 3d scanning, 3d printing, CAD. With that said we were able to keep:

-same intercooler horns location.

-same injector location.

-same fuel vacuum location.

-same intercooler mounting points.

-same map position. Our manifold work with all the OE parts.


Working prototype in the photo.

Working prototype in the photo.


Two way hybrid manifold.

Benefits of printing with HP Jet Fusion 5200

This technology has allowed us to make complete bespoke manifolds in low volumes.

  • Features that can be changed in every single print, for example: Increased runner size

  • Intake manifold flange matching ported heads,

  • Increased manifold inlet to match turbo piping or th.body.

  • Additional injectors. Location for methanol injection across each cylinder (4 in total).

  • Geometries to accept aftermarket sensors.



Manifold Development:

In order to design, develop and produce this manifold we used a combination of technologies.


3D Scanning:

Engine bay 3D Scan

OEM manifold 3D Scan


CAD:

We use the latest CAD software, to make sure the final product meets the requirements we set. The unique nature of this product meant that we had to utilize design methods that are used in injection molding, cnc machining and 3d printing.


3D Printing:

We are using state of the art HP 5200 MJF 3D printer.


CNC Machining: The main flange and the sensors inserts are billet aluminum, machined from a 5-axis CNC.

Composites:

For the two way (MJF + Aluminum) and three way (under development) hybrid intakes , special bonding techniques and ovens were used. The bonding methods we used had to undergo extreme heat, vibrations and be fuel and oil resistant.


Testing:

In total we did 16 revisions. With changes in the shape of the manifold, the bonding method and the sealing flanges.



An engineering exercise? Yes it is indeed. We are very proud of this manifold because of the gigantic effort we and our partners put into it, and the fact that we created the first printed manifold with billet inserts and that we manage to develop and manufacture an MJF printed manifold that is not just a demo part. The power gains is just a byproduct of all the above. Power and torque in the whole rpm rage with faster IAT recovery rate.

Power and torque gains in the whole rpm range. *Tune not finished.


Thank you for reading this blog post. Stay tuned for more.








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