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High-temperature polymers

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The use of polymers in racing powertrains is relatively limited, their main use normally being as a matrix for fibre-reinforced composites. There have been a number of uses of polymers, both filled and unfilled, to the highest levels of motorsport. However, these are normally special polymers which are far more expensive than those general-purpose plastics that we might normally associate with machinery whose components operate close to ambient temperatures; examples of such materials are...


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The FIA regulations governing the materials used for the construction of Formula One engines prohibits the use of composites for major structural components, and this is set to continue, despite the fact that it is planned to use composite cylinder blocks on a much lower budget race engine soon. However, just one bolted joint away from the engine is the transmission, and there are no such regulations which affect the transmission case. Although composites have not been universally adopted,...


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One of the usual requirements when designing a race engine is low mass; low engine mass aids low car mass. Where there is no lower limit for overall vehicle mass, a light engine gives a light car and therefore the best possible acceleration for a given engine output. Where overall vehicle mass is limited though, a light engine means the mass can be used elsewhere on the chassis, usually to better effect. Having spare mass means weight distribution and chassis stiffness can be experimented...

Steel – powder metallurgy

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When we talk of powder metallurgy methods of manufacture, there are two almost unconnected methods. The first, which is used to manufacture near net-shape components, involves filling a mould with powdered metal and sintering it together under pressure to produce a pre-form that may need very little machining before the part can be used in an engine. Some production con rods are produced by this technique. However, for the purposes of this article, I want to discuss the powder metallurgy...

Rapid prototyping

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In the previous article on the advances in rapid prototyping materials and methods, some possible applications were mentioned, especially for exhausts. Laser-sintered exhaust components have been displayed at trade shows for several years now and there are exhaust companies who have used the method to produce real parts for a few years in both high-temperature materials such as Inconel but also titanium. There are of course other applications for this technology and the increasing range of...