When a team of students from the University of Hertfordshire was tasked to make this year’s UH Racing car much lighter than in previous years – at first, the assignment seemed daunting for the students. Fortunately, igus, one of the team’s sponsors, was more than happy to pitch in, explaining the features and benefits of using complex technical polymer and ultralight metal components in place of the more traditional steel ones.
UH Racing is the UK’s most successful Formula Student team of all time. Founded in 1997, the team of now 30 undergraduate students from the School of Engineering and Technology develops a new vehicle each year; this annual project plays a significant role in the student’s Bachelors or Masters Degree course. And it’s not just engineering focussed; students from other faculties are involved also, dealing with the media and business aspects of running the racing car team, for instance. Impressively, every professional Formula 1 team currently has a UH graduate working in it.
The focus for the UH18 team this year has been to reduce the overall weight of the car and, as a result of rule changes, which required smaller wings, some additional work needed to be done on the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance. A ‘Driver in the Loop’ motion simulator is available at the University to give students ‘real’ race car experience and exposure to leading-edge Formula 1 technology.
In a normal road car, the seats are adjusted back and forth on heavy steel rails to accommodate the leg length of the driver. In a racing car, however, the seat position is anchored firmly. This is primarily for safety and centre of gravity reasons, and the position of a pedal box, which contains the brake and accelerator pedals, is adjustable.
UH Racing team member and final year Engineering student Ashley Craig says: “We used the igus drylin T linear guide rails and carriages for the mounting mechanism of the pedal box. These were then modified to fit a quick-release pin, so that they can be fixed in position and the pedal box moved either towards or away from the seating position to accommodate the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male.”
Complex technical polymer
Igus drylin TS-04-15 low-profile rails were used in conjunction with TW-04-15 miniature carriages for the mounting mechanism of the pedal box. Weighing only 330g per metre length, the cast zinc chromate carriage and hard-anodised aluminium rails are maintenance free. The sliding elements are made of wear-resistant iglidur J material, a complex technical polymer that is self-lubricating and therefore also requires no maintenance. Although the drylin T linear guide systems were specially developed for automation and handling systems, these rugged linear guides can accommodate the most diverse – and also extreme – environments. The high service life of iglidur W300 flange bearing was also utilised, again giving the important advantage of weight reduction, which is crucial in motorsport.
The race car is now undergoing an extensive testing programme, using facilities at the University of Hertfordshire’s rolling road and Park and Ride to shakedown the car. The team will also be heading to Bruntingthorpe Airfield and Proving Ground shortly to allow for more extensive testing and really put the car through its paces in preparation for competition.
The first trial for the new UH18 will be at the Formula Student event in July, being held at Silverstone, where over 3000 students from around the world will be taking part. In August, the team will move on to the Hockenheim racing circuit to take part in Formula Student Germany.
All in all, the technical polymer and lightweight metal components supplied by igus have contributed to a 2kg weight reduction of the vehicle. “We wish the UH Racing team continued success,” says Rob Dumayne, director, igus.
For more information about technical polymer and ultralight metal components from igus, please visit the website at www.igus.co.uk.