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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Design Fundamentals

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Design Fundamentals


00:00 - Making or modifying some of the more critical components on a car obviously needs to be dealt with carefully if you want to ensure that the finished component is strong and safe.
00:10 If a tab that's supporting your radiator breaks on track, then that's probably not going to be the end of the world.
00:16 However a failed suspension arm can easily escalate into an off track excursion with potentially life threatening results.
00:24 The motorsport industry is usually driven by a desire to make components as light as possible because this obviously aids the performance of the completed vehicle.
00:33 But this needs to be considered along with what's required in order to ensure sufficient strength, stiffness and reliability.
00:41 This is always a delicate balance since the consequences of going too far in the direction of lightweight can obviously have catastrophic results.
00:49 The flipside of this is that nobody is likely to thank you for building a component that's safe, heavy and slow.
00:56 In most instances, compromises need to be made but of course we need to be able to make informed decisions on exactly what compromises we're making and how far we're prepared to push the boundaries.
01:08 It's probably safe to assume that if you're taking this course, that you're not quite ready to start building components for next season's F1 cars and with this in mind, for club level competition, a little additional weight for the benefit of extra strength is usually the smartest direction to head in.
01:25 It's unlikely that saving a few grams is going to be the key in claiming a championship.
01:30 This course is not intended to provide you with an in depth understanding of engineering principles and a degree in mechanical engineering is definitely not a pre requisite in order to become a fabricator, however, there are some simple concepts that are easy to understand and these will allow you to avoid pitfalls and mistakes that we see constantly, even in some professionally built race cars.
01:54 In this set of modules we're going to touch on some of these concepts that'll help you build stronger and safer components that you can depend on and we're going to start by discussing one of the more critical aspects, how to decide what materials and what size of material to use.
02:09 This starts with an understanding of what forces are going to be applied to the component and what the magnitude of those forces will be.
02:18 Again, without a pretty thorough grounding in engineering, this is going to be difficult for most of us to know but there are still some very simple steps we can take that will guide our decision making.
02:28 A good way to start getting an understanding of the requirements for a given component is to simply look at what other cars are using for the same application.
02:36 A walk around the pits at any race meeting will give you the opportunity to thoroughly examine the likes of suspension arms, uprights, wing mounts and just about anything else you may be considering fabricating for your own project.
02:50 You'll be able to quickly gain a sense of design elements such as what diameter tube is being used, what size rod ends are suitable and even what fasteners are being utilised on vehicles of a similar design, weight and application to your own.
03:04 This of course isn't a foolproof method because there are always cars out there with poor engineering practices applied to them which we don't want to copy on our own fabrication projects.
03:15 However if you spend enough time looking at how others are approaching the design of the components you're interested in making, you'll start to see some common approaches which will also alert you to those that are perhaps a little questionable.
03:27 Another way of getting an understanding of what material is required for a task is to look at aftermarket components from reputable manufacturers that are already available for the same application that you're building.
03:39 In many instances, these manufacturers will have actually gone to the lengths of understanding the forces the component will be exposed to in order to validate that their part is fit for purpose.
03:50 While I'm not suggesting that directly copying their product is the way forward, this will give you a lot of valuable information that you can start applying to your own designs.
04:01 Any time you're testing a new part, it's also sensible to start out cautiously and slowly building up the forces on the part by building up to maximum speed gradually.
04:10 This will give you the opportunity to inspect the part at regular intervals and ensure that there's no sign that it's beginning to bend or fail.
04:17 At a professional level with the advances in 3D design and modelling software like Fusion 360, SolidWorks and Ansys, validating a design in the virtual world using finite element stress analysis is possible, providing confidence that a specific design actually has the required strength for the forces that are expected.
04:37 While these software packages are commonplace for professional engineers, they do require an in depth knowledge of both the software and engineering principles in order to get worthwhile results and are generally beyond the scope of most fabricators.
04:51 It should of course go without saying that if you aren't confident with making components for some of the more mission critical parts of your car, the this should be left to a professional.

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