Case Studies

Optimized, Customized 3D-Printed Steering Wheel for Baja SAE

Baja ÉTS, ÉTS, TT Fabrication 3D (2023).


Objectives, background and challenge


Among the student clubs at École de technologie supérieure, Baja ÉTS is the one that has earned the most competition awards since its inception in 1989. The club designs, builds and validates an all-terrain vehicle called the Baja. For some time now, the Baja ÉTS has had problems with one essential system: its steering wheel. The wheel made from a cut aluminum plate had proved inadequate, breaking several times in previous years.

To solve the steering wheel’s reliability problem, the Baja team turned to the Shape Memory Alloys and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (LAMSI). During discussions, four steering wheel optimization criteria were listed: a) Maximize steering wheel stiffness/weight ratio; b) Increase steering wheel resistance to mechanical stress, both impact and fatigue; c) Improve ergonomics of the driver’s grip on the steering wheel (customization); d) Simplify steering wheel assembly.

Three design objectives were formulated by the LAMSI and Baja teams, namely a) Consider the three load cases for topological optimization: left and right turns, braking, impact or landing; b) Integrate, optimize position, and customize steering wheel handles; c) Protect the steering wheel’s electronic components from the elements.