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Keeping it together

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What is the difference between a sealant and an adhesive? You may be thinking that this is a trick question, with a clever single-word rejoinder, but I can assure you that nothing is further from my thoughts. You see, when it comes down to it, the difference between a sealant and an adhesive can often be one of intent. The sealant is present to prevent the passage of a liquid (or gas), while the adhesive is more about mechanical strength and retention. I am reminded of the time many years...

Tough stuff

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Dare I say it but a good cylinder block can be likened to a good husband or partner. For as much as it is desirable to have the best of all the qualities in a spouse, in the end the woman has to make the best of what she can get and adapt it to suit. In a good cylinder block it is desirable therefore to be strong, mechanically stiff with a high resistance to wear on the rubbing surfaces, resistant to corrosion and have excellent thermal conductivity. Furthermore it must have low density,...

Setting targets?

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An issue often not immediately considered when discussing an engine component such as a cylinder head or engine block, or any cast or forged part of them, is the way the machined features are positioned into the rough part. These features need to be positioned - or 'targeted' - correctly onto the casting, in order to get to a fully functioning component as the end product. So what are the important points during this initial machining, which will create the basis for all other...

Residual stress?

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For 'normal people' stress is something to be avoided; not so however for engine developers. It is something we have learned to live with, and even use to our advantage. So, what about residual stress then? Every mechanical engineer has learned during his or her education that one can only load a structure so much, until the maximum permissible stress is reached. This implies that an external load of some kind is being applied to that structure. In the meantime we have all kinds of...

The gap in between

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If you were to look inside the brain of any true engineer, you will find the phrase: "Make it smaller, cheaper and better". Smaller invariably means lighter, cheaper satisfies the bean-counters among us while better is the goal we often set ourselves, the one that plays to our ego and sense of pride, and the one we tend to judge ourselves by. So while designers are always producing engines to the smallest size, at some point someone in the future will always want to extract even...