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Rapid prototyping

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Having seen the extremely brisk pace of development in rapid prototyping methods over the past decade, it strikes me that this is a technology that stands to revolutionise the way we will come to make many parts for race engines. For a number of years there have been rapid prototype parts run on racecars on everything from Formula Student to Formula One. The method offers a way to have small numbers of complex parts made quickly and in a cost-effective manner, with the costs of design...

Valve seat materials

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In a four-stroke race engine, the valve seats play an important part in the mechanical reliability and heat management of the valves. In general, the valve seat will conduct much of the heat away from the valve head during the time the valve is shut. If we leave mechanical and dimensional considerations aside, a valve seat material with greater thermal conductivity will transfer heat from the valve to the cylinder head, and thence to the cooling water circuit, more efficiently than one of...

Titanium alloys

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My previous article on titanium alloys looked at the possible benefits that Ti10-2-3 - an alloy containing 10% vanadium, 2% iron and 3% aluminium - might offer compared to the widely used Ti6-4 material. Ti10-2-3 has found wide use on military and civilian aircraft, commonly in structures where steel has traditionally been the material of choice. As in motor racing, there is a great advantage to be had in the aerospace industry in terms of mass reduction. Since the widespread adoption of...

Improved titanium alloys (1)

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It is a fact that development of titanium alloys is driven by the substantial needs of the aerospace industry, for improved properties or lower costs. The use of titanium is widespread in aircraft, both military and commercial, and with great emphasis being placed on reducing mass, the development of better alloys allows parts currently made in titanium to be even lighter or for steel parts to be replaced with titanium. The development and use of surface engineering processes goes hand in...

Low-density, high-strength alloys

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In a previous article on aluminium-beryllium, we looked at how its combination of low density, stiffness and thermal conductivity makes it ideal for pistons. As I explained though, the material - for Formula One at least - is now prohibited, and outside Formula One, there is perhaps little appetite for using it. Besides pistons, I mentioned a number of other applications where aluminium-beryllium might be considered, including static applications. In this article we will look briefly at...