How 3D Printing Connected F1 Racing with Thoracic Surgery


Most of us associate the word “McLaren” with famed, high-performance sports cars. The company’s Formula 1 vehicles have won more than 165 Grand Prix, and its drivers have come home with 12 world championships.

What you might not know is that McLaren operates six companies, including a business called McLaren Applied Technologies, which was formed in 2004 to identify projects that “leverage technology and expertise within the McLaren Group and apply them beyond the core business of motorsport and automotive.”

The latest opportunity has been a cool combination of 3D printing technology for medical applications that has its roots in racing.

According to, a McLaren Formula 1 driver approached the Applied Technologies division after he’d had surgery that left parts of his chest – including the heart and lungs – no longer protected by his ribcage.

In a collaborative effort, the McLaren team kicked off “Project Invincible” whose objective was to develop a product that could take the place of the ribcage both in everyday life, as well as in racing applications.

They used 3D scanning to determine the measurements of the man’s chest to create a CAD file for prototyping.

The solution also needed to fit discreetly under a garment, so the team selected the same type of lightweight composite used in body armor, plus other resins and fibers including Zylon, which is, incidentally, used on Formula 1 cars to protect them during crashes.

The use of 3D scanning and printing means this solution can be modified to fit any person’s exact body size. It’s said that the McLaren Racing division was highly influential in helping get the project, along with its manufacturing, off the ground.

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