I’m the body and chassis lead for the Illini EV Concept car team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Facebook, Instagram: @illinievconcept), and this year I used Blender to design and manufacture our team’s car. My team competes in the Shell Ecomarathon every year in the urban concept battery electric division. What’s so unique about this competition compared to other SAE competitions is that it gives teams the creative freedom to design whatever car they want. No other university car competition I am aware of allows this much freedom of design.
Below is a picture of the finished car. In the comments I will attach the Blender renders and other pictures of the car.
EV2 Front Diagonal Picture 1
The body alignment is a little off if you look carefully enough. This really came down to how quickly the panels were mounted after working on certain parts of the car. Some areas also are held in place with tape to quickly and effectively keep some things in place, or water proof electronics.
The entire body/chassis is made out of carbon fiber, whose molds were machined out of high density foam using a CNC mill I designed and manufactured. The body panels I designed in Blender were edited to make the mold surface for the carbon fiber parts. Those surfaces were then exported as .obj files and translated into solid surface parts using Autodesk Fusion 360. These solid surface files can then be used as references to efficiently generate CNC toolpaths to enable a CNC machine to mill away the mold surface. Obj files can be used for CNC toolpath generation, although it does require relatively more computational time to produce.
The same process was used for the chassis. Additionally, the chassis assembly itself was exported into Autodesk Fusion 360, then translated into a solid surface model so I could run structural analysis on it in Ansys.
I am so happy I was able to use Blender to design the body/chassis. Blender is leagues faster and more intuitive to use than traditional engineering CAD software in regards to for complex surface modeling.
I want to give a huge thanks to the entire Illini EV Concept team for helping me complete the body/chassis on time for this year’s Shell Eco Marathon. For anyone familiar with making carbon fiber parts, it is a very labor-intensive process and requires a team of dedicated individuals to make happen.
If this interests you, feel free to follow Illini EV Concept on Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be posting more about how we use Blender in the future.