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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Material Forms

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Material Forms


00:00 - When selecting materials for motorsport fabrication, there are many different factors that need to be taken into consideration.
00:06 Although the majority of metals we use in the construction of race cars don't stray too far from the normal fabrication materials used in other industries, there are some things that we need to know before we begin.
00:18 Metals are available in 100s of different shapes, thicknesses, grades and finishes and the best option for our application unsurprisingly comes down to our intended use and the requirements of the part that we're making.
00:31 Before committing to the final details of any project, it's a good idea to first familiarise yourself with the stock at your local metal supplier.
00:40 It's all well and good finding the perfect material for your application but if it's not available locally or perhaps even in your country, it's not going to be much help to you.
00:49 You'll also want to spend some time researching any regulations around the modifications you want to apply to your vehicle.
00:55 This can be particularly important if you're looking to register and use your vehicle on the street, in which case an engineer may have some clear guidelines that dictate the materials that you're going to need to use.
01:05 The same goes for modifications for race track use and your motorsport governing body may stipulate what materials can and can't be used for some specific tasks.
01:15 Before we get into the different types of metals, let's first take a quick look at the common shapes that are available and their corresponding strengths and weaknesses.
01:24 You're likely to find that the majority of motorsport specific steel manufacturers and wholesalers stock a larger range of round tube, rather than any other shape and that's because round tube has a higher resistance to both flex and torsional twisting for a given weight compared to most other shapes.
01:41 This doesn't mean that square tube isn't appropriate to use in our fabrication processes, it just means that round tube will produce a stiffer and lighter chassis or frame when compared to the same structure made using square tube.
01:53 This might leave you wondering why we'd want to use anything but round tube at all and there are plenty of reasons.
02:00 It's common for instance to see floor sections and suspensions mounting positions made out of square or oval tube in race cars because they offer a simplified flat mounting surface for both the reinforced tube structure above it and the suspension components that'll be swinging off it.
02:15 Square or rectangular tube can also offer some benefits if a specific direction of load is known to the chassis designer and this will allow the tube to be clocked or orientated so that it offers flex in one direction and rigidity in the opposing direction.
02:30 For most of us though, we won't specifically know what the loads are so by using round tube, we can be safe in the knowledge that it'll offer us the same torsional rigidity regardless of the direction.
02:41 Streamlined tube is also an option and this is usually found in areas where the tube is located outside of the bodywork like suspension wishbones in open wheel racecars or rear wing uprights.
02:52 It's used to decrease the aerodynamic drag while still maintaining a high level of strength.
02:58 In these areas, we're evaluating the best possible shape to increase strength and decrease weight and drag all at the same time.
03:05 Before moving on, we also need to discuss sheet metal which has a multitude of applications for motorsport fabrication.
03:12 Sheet metal is something that at face value doesn't seem very strong and that's true in its raw flat form but it has the ability to be formed into any shape we need.
03:21 Whether it be through bending or welding, we can make some really intricate pieces and in this way, we can provide strength to key areas of the project that tube just wouldn't work for.
03:31 Sheet metal is an ideal addition to all types of tube in the form of reinforcing, commonly known as gusseting which reinforces and stiffens a section of tube to increase its strength in the area where the gusset is added.
03:44 It's common to see sheet metal gussets around the intersection of roll cage tubes or on off road racing trucks where they're frequently used as suspension arms to increase strength.
03:54 For every type of tube, there's a corresponding sheet metal and matching the thickness of the gusset to the wall thickness of the tube is a great way to ensure a uniform amount of strength.
04:04 By using different shapes of tube and developing our own shapes out of sheet metal, we can build some extremely light and strong structures that look as good as they work.

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