What is the material of the F1 body
The stuff of which successes are made
Weight has always played an important role in racing. This is also shown by an anecdote about the birth of the Silver Arrows. It all began in 1934 on the eve of the Eifel race on the scales at the Nürburgring. The rules said that the cars could weigh a maximum of 750 kilograms. The brand new W 25, however, weighed a kilo too much. That is why Alfred Neubauer, the head of the Mercedes Benz racing team at the time, had the white color of the racing car sanded off so that a shiny silver racing car made of aluminum remained: the Silver Arrows were born.
Today, lightweight construction and choosing the right material has become a real science. Intelligent material mixtures, in particular carbon fiber composites, make Formula 1 racing cars not only particularly light today, but also particularly stable - more than 85 percent of the chassis of a racing car is therefore made of carbon. “The complex geometries of a modern Formula 1 car are partly only possible due to the latest developments in material technology and manufacturing processes. The advent of computer-controlled machines and rapid prototyping technology allow aerodynamicists to test significantly more complex shapes in the wind tunnel, ”explains Geoff Willis, Technology Director at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport.
Half as heavy as a car
In order to determine how thick the materials have to be in which areas and where which materials are used, the engineers carry out numerous so-called finite element simulations - the forces acting on individual parts of the car are simulated in order to determine the optimum shape and To be able to determine the thickness of the components. "Our experts are always on the lookout for new materials and methods and we are regularly‘ early adopters ’of such technologies. This is made possible by the fact that we are constantly testing a whole range of new materials and shapes. These tests and analyzes have enabled us to significantly reduce the weight of the car since the first race, ”says Geoff Willis. Thanks to the optimization of carbon fiber composites and the use of additional lightweight components, Formula 1 racing cars now weigh only around 722 kilograms - so the cars are only around half the weight of an average passenger car. The limit is not due to technical reasons, but results from the regulations the FIA.
Maximum precision in the workshop of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport: These tools are used to shape various parts of the car from different metals. (© Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.)
For ebm-papst, too, research into modern materials is immensely important for the continuous further development of products. An important goal is to reduce weight and improve functionality at the same time. The example of the latest version of the RadiPac centrifugal fan shows how this works. Its blades are designed as an Airfoil aluminum hollow profile. This reduces the weight of the wheel while increasing its stability. Together with other aerodynamic revisions of all RadiPac versions, the efficiency has been increased by over 13 percent compared to the previous models.
Aluminum + plastic = more freedom
Another example of the clever use of materials is the HyBlade® axial fan with its unique composite material, which was specially developed for large axial fans. Its support structure is made of aluminum and offers the necessary stability. A cover made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic is placed on top of it, which allows the fan blades to be shaped completely freely. They can be optimized down to the last detail, for example with winglets on the wing tips like those found on the front wings of the Formula 1 racing cars from Mercedes-AMG Petronas. The result: higher aerodynamic efficiencies with less weight and an almost revolutionary noise reduction.
The HyBlade® axial fan consists of a unique composite material that was specially developed for large axial fans.
Sustainability also plays an important role for ebm-papst when developing new materials. This is shown by energy-saving fans made of epylen®, a wood-plastic composite material that brings together a whole list of requirements. The raw materials themselves should not only be renewable, but should also be produced in an environmentally friendly manner. In addition, the materials in processing and in the end product must meet a number of properties such as high temperature resistance, very low shrinkage and warpage.
The examples from the world of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and ebm-papst show that the research and further development of new materials can always bring decisive advantages over the competition. That is why the two partners will keep rethinking materials in the future - the color of the parts is the smallest challenge.
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