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Formula Student racing machine gets some 'lightweighting' treatment

10 October 2015

igus helps the University of Hertfordshire (UH) Formula Student team reduce the weight of their 2015 entrant with technical polymer guides and ultra-light metal components.

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 -a project that plays a significant role in the students' Bachelors or Masters Degree courses.

And it’s not just engineering focused; students from other faculties are involved too, dealing with the media and business aspects of running the racing car team, among other tasks. 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 takes up the story:

“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.” 

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 which 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.

All in all, the technical polymer and lightweight metal components supplied by igus contributed to a 2kg weight reduction of the UH Formula Student vehicle.

The 2015 season events ended in August and the results of the competition are available here.

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