Ten Tenths is dedicated to keeping Nick Mason’s collection of road and competition cars in peak operating condition. The collection, that numbers around 35-40 at any time, spans pre-war racers right up to today’s hybrid performance road cars. All are fastidiously prepared in-house by Ten Tenth’s dedicated engineers to be driven hard and are arguably among the best-loved cars at events around the world including Le Mans Classic, Goodwood and even competing at location as far away as Barbados.
When Holly Mason-Franchitti, daughter of Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, wanted some extra support for driving her dad’s Lola Cosworth T297 at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed earlier this year, Ten Tenths was there to help.
Ben de Chair, Race Technician at Ten Tenths takes over the story. “Our priority is primarily safety but also comfort. When it was confirmed that Holly would compete at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed, it was imperative that we develop a seating solution that was crucially safe but also comfortable, so she could focus on driving the challenging course.
“The original seat in the Lola T297 wouldn’t satisfy these requirements, so we sought an elegant solution that would enable us to keep the original seat supplemented by a neat insert suitable for Holly to use.
“In such circumstances, a foam insert is usually the answer, but it tends to look tatty very quickly and for such an important event, didn’t match our standards of preparation. Secondly, where it is relevant and offers a functional advantage without comprising the originality of the car, we like to adopt modern material technology. This led us to see if additive manufacturing could deliver a smart and safe custom seat.”
To overcome this, Ben spoke to the team at Laser Lines to come up with a solution – a bespoke 3D printed seat insert that would help Holly while she was driving but that could be removed to leave the original seat intact, in case there was a need for another driver in the future.
Peter Smith, Product Specialist at Laser Lines, explains. “After speaking with Ben and understanding the challenge, we came up with a plan. Ben put a bag filled with quick setting foam behind Holly’s back as she sat in the seat and made sure it was snug. The foam set around Holly’s back and gave us a very primitive mould – but it was enough. We scanned this, which took about an hour and then spent about 5 hours modelling it to get our design. We split the scanned CAD design in to three different sections to 3D print it.”
Laser Lines needed to make sure its bucket seat was secure and made Holly feel supported, comfortable and confident when driving the car. It knew that when she was driving and accelerating at high speed, there was no room for movement.
Peter adds: “We were learning on the fly but once we got the cushion, we were able to scan and model a new insert for the seat, which we could test and see whether any design modifications needed to be made.” After the second iteration of the design, Laser Lines was sure it had a solution that would work. Peter adds: “It looked like a giant baby seat that would be bolted into the existing seat and in some respects, its makeup was similar, as our key aim was to keep Holly safe and secure.”
The team at Laser Lines came up with a finished part that was printed on a Fortus 450. The whole seat took about 100 hours to print in plain black nylon carbon fibre and the shell had a thickness of about 6mm. To ensure the car seat’s aesthetic qualities, the team also did some work on maximising the smoothness of the part. Then, it was a case of securing it together with some reinforcing struts and a flange for each joint, which were glued and screwed before being bolted back into the existing main car seat. This allowed for a lightweight but immensely solid structure that looked elegant enough for such a prestigious race car.”
Greg Keech, Applications Engineer at Laser Lines, who was responsible for printing the part, adds: “I think our expertise of working with automotive companies generally and in the Formula 1 arena proved essential with this project. We knew we were able to create a part that was strong, but still minimised the total weight on the car. We also understood Ben’s requirements quickly so were able to turn the project around fairly seamlessly.”
Ben de Chair adds: “The Lola T297 is famous in its own right having been famously raced by Nick Mason at Le Mans in 1979. With Holly racing it at Goodwood, we wanted her to feel completely at ease handling the car, which she absolutely did, nailing it and coming first in class. Working with Laser Lines was extremely helpful. With this project, it wasn’t just Holly who got superb support.”