For several years now, we’ve been happy to support the SAE Formula Racing team over at Northwestern University. Molly Mudget, one of the main team members working with the titanium, lets us know how their year went and how they did in competition.
Every year since 2008, Northwestern Formula Racing (NFR) has participated at an international level in an inter-collegiate SAE competition with an open-wheeled, motorcycle-engine powered road racing car. Throughout the school year we raise funds for, design, build, test, and eventually race the formula style car. The team has been using titanium for at least 6 years, and this year Performance Titanium Group provided NFR with a sponsorship.
We use titanium to construct the lever arms of the Anti-Roll Bar (ARB), a component of the suspension system that serves as system of springs to reduce body roll of the vehicle while cornering. Titanium is an optimal material for this because the ARB needs to meet a specific target stiffness and titanium has both a desirable strength-to-weight ratio and spring constant while meeting this stiffness requirement. The use of titanium allows us to adjust the ARB after assembly on the car in order to change the cornering abilities depending on the driver’s needs.
Our team both designed and manufactured the ARB in the Northwestern machine shop on the mill and lathe. This year we had a slightly different design for the part and new tools optimized for use with titanium. First, we parted and turned down the stock to appropriate dimensions on the lathe. We then single-pointed both ends before completing the manufacturing process on the mill. Finally, we assembled the front and rear ARBs onto the car. We ran into no difficulties while machining, and were impressed by the surface finish when complete. The ARB turned out well and served an essential role in the overall performance of the car.
Northwestern Formula Racing competed in the Formula SAE Michigan competition at the International Speedway on May 8-11, 2019. 119 Teams registered for the event. After passing tech inspection, fuel, tilt, noise, and brakes, we competed in skid pad, acceleration, autocross, and endurance. Our scores are as follows:
Design: 93/150 (21st Place!!)
Business Presentation: 63.79/75 (23rd)
Acceleration: 4.508 sec (25th)
Autocross: 71.135 (87th)
Skidpad: 5.740 (67th)
The design score was the highest in the history of our team, and everyone is overall very pleased with the car’s performance at comp. Unfortunately, the car started experiencing technical difficulties during endurance and was unable to finish, but after returning to campus we were able to troubleshoot and correct the issue and the car now works great. We intend to keep this NFR19 car running for the entirety of next year to help us with the testing and validation of various design decisions to further improve our performance in future competitions.
As far as the titanium ARB blades are concerned, the judges were impressed with the adjustability feature and commended us on the overall design. They were an integral functional component of the suspension. We are very excited for the potential of next year’s car, NFR20, and can’t wait to get started on design and manufacturing.
We look forward to seeing how the team and their design for the vehicle continues to evolve and improve!
To learn more about the team, you can visit their website: https://northwesternformularacing.com/.
For more photos, follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nufsae/