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Copper materials in bearings

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Plain bearings come in a huge range of sizes, and in dealing with engines we will be familiar with a number of different types. The simplest are the cylindrical bush types which we see in various guises, most notably as con rod bushes and valve guides. Con rod bushes and valve guides are most commonly alloys of copper. In the case of the small-end bush, these see relatively little sliding but high loads. The valve guide experiences little load but intermittent sliding. Copper alloys also...

Powder metallurgy steels

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Steels make up a large part of a typical race engine: while most race engines have the main castings made of aluminium or cast iron, steel remains the favourite for a number of other components, notably camshafts and crankshafts. While cast iron can be used for both of these components, for highly developed, minimum-mass, high-stress applications we invariably find that steels are used. The piston pins in most race engines are still made from steel too. Despite the fact that steel-making...

Rapid prototyping

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Until relatively recently, the so-called 'rapid prototype' manufacturing methods were restricted to polymers and some other fairly 'flaky' materials - at least in terms of commercial availability. After the initial polymer materials (some of which are excellent and can be used perfectly well as test and race parts for chassis and engine use) some metal materials became available, though nothing which we might have considered useful for race engine components. In the past few...


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In terms of engine development leading materials development, modern gas turbines are an excellent example. Since the days of Sir Frank Whittle, these engines have been able to progress only through parallel development of materials that are capable of operating at ever-increasing temperatures and at higher levels of stress. Such high-temperature materials are not just fancy steels; in comparison even to very highly alloyed stainless steels they contain very little iron, if any at all....

Titanium as a fastener material

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Titanium is banned in the current Formula One engine regulations from being used for threaded fasteners, despite its attractive attributes for such components. The rules specify that threaded fasteners must be made from alloys based on one of three elements - iron, cobalt or nickel - and this is planned to be carried forward for the new V6 turbo engines we will see in use from 2014 onwards. It should be noted though that there is no similar regulation governing the use of titanium...