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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Step 2: Materials

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Step 2: Materials


00:00 - While we've separated the material selection into its own step, in reality, there's a cross over between the planning stage and the material selection since we can't develop our design properly if we didn't know what material we were going to be using.
00:14 Likewise, we can't really choose a suitable material without having an idea of what we're going to be building and how it's going to be constructed.
00:21 When it comes to choosing suitable materials for this job, obviously we want the top of the bench to be metallic so that it's a good conductor of electricity since this will form the ground for our workpiece when we're welding.
00:33 It would also be an advantage if the benchtop offered good thermal conductivity so that it can act as a heat sink when welding.
00:40 On face value, aluminium fits the bill nicely here and this absolutely could be used to make our benchtop.
00:47 There are some disadvantages though with alloy in terms of its strength, rigidity and service life.
00:54 Since aluminium is quite soft, it tends to become marked and gouged over time which may require it to be replaced relatively frequently.
01:02 Instead, we've decided to fit a 10 mm thick steel top which provides us with a few key advantages.
01:09 First of all we can choose to drill and tack the steel bench top to take a removable bench vice off to the side where it won't affect the welding area and this broadens the range of tasks that we can achieve on this workbench.
01:22 The steel top is also much harder wearing than aluminium, meaning that it can be used to support parts for processes such as centre punching and it will last much longer without deteriorating.
01:32 The downside however is that a steel benchtop can cause arcing between the bench and the workpiece and this tends to be more pronounced with materials like aluminium.
01:41 For this reason, we'll also be adding a rectangular section of 3 mm aluminium plate that will just sit on the top of the steel workbench top and act as a work surface for our actual welding task.
01:54 The benefit of doing this is that it provides improved conductivity to the workpiece, eliminating arcing but it's also quick and easy to replace if it does become marked or damaged.
02:04 Next we need to settle on a material for the frame.
02:08 Obviously the bench needs to be strong enough to support our workpiece, welder and gas bottle and we need it to be rigid however this isn't too challenging and from previous experience, we know that 50 mm square hollow steel with a 2.6 mm wall thickness will provide us with more than enough strength while still being easy to work with and it's not going to break the bank.
02:30 Galvanised steel can seem like an attractive option as it eliminates corrosion on your finished part however the galvanised coating is difficult to work with and you need to grind it off in the areas you want to weld which is time consuming and partially defeats the corrosion prevention purpose.
02:47 The 50 x 50 steel tube is going to make up the majority of the table frame however we don't need such large and bulky material everywhere.
02:55 For the TIG welder support, we've chosen a smaller 25 x 25 mm square hollow tube and we're using some 40 x 5 mm steel plate to make our bottle mount as well as the hooks for our cable management.
03:08 It's worth considering how you're going to transport the material since a lot of the steel we use will be provided from the supplier in raw lengths around 8 m long and of course these can be a challenge to fit in most vehicles.
03:20 In our case, we paid for the material to be transported to us on a truck and hence we could accept a full uncut length.
03:27 If you intend to pick your material up, then it can be worth paying a cutting charge to have the longer lengths of material cut down into two to three metre sections to make them a little easier to handle.
03:39 Obviously a little common sense is needed though to ensure that you don't end up with a lot of wasted material if these lengths aren't compatible with the required lengths on our cutting list.

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