“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

The Sirris Da Vinci team took these wise words by Leonardo da Vinci to heart as they designed their soapbox for the Red Bull Soapbox Race taking place in Kluisbergen on 10 September.

The five-strong Sirris team used a skateboard as inspiration for the their vehicle’s steering system and came up with a design that combines natural materials like bamboo with technical parts made of titanium, polyamide and aluminium. You can keep track of the team’s progress on their soapbox on the Sirris Da Vinci Facebook page. Here are a few brief explanations, plus some pictures and videos, to give you a taste of the first stages in the construction of the Sirris Da Vinci soapbox…

From building a prototype to making parts

The team started out by testing their idea. To that end, they built a prototype using additive manufacturing or 3D printing techniques. Check out this clip to see the result.

Initial testing showed that their steering system, which makes the whole vehicle tilt as it turns, works. Or at least, it showed that it would work for the prototype…

Once they had taken this first step, which was crucial for implementing technical innovations, they turned their attention to designing and making the soapbox’s parts.

Our experts made the first part out of aluminium: in their view, aluminium has all the right properties to enable the part to withstand the stress it will experience during the race. A topological optimisation exercise was conducted and the design was adjusted accordingly. The final result was the part you can see in this photo:

Our experts chose to make their second part out of titanium. The supports used for the additive manufacturing process were a key concern at this stage: they have to be placed in exactly the right position, there need to be enough of them (neither too many nor too few) and they need to be easy to remove. They serve two purposes, both supporting the part during the manufacturing process and acting as a heat sink. This photo shows the part with and without its supports:

 

The team are currently working on the connectors that will hold the bamboo rods together... we will make sure to keep you posted about their progress!

The Sirris Da Vinci team observed that “it must have been so frustrating for Leonardo da Vinci when he realised that he couldn’t properly implement his ideas with the technologies of his time...”

Luckily for the team, they can use Sirris’s high-tech infrastructure to sketch out their craziest ideas and see them through to fruition.

Keep track of Sirris Da Vinci’s progress on their soapbox on Facebook.