This year, PTG was able to support the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Baja SAE team (Rebel Racing) with several titanium donations. Below, the Rebel Racing team shares some of their feedback on working with this titanium and utilizing it in their competition.
For the UNLV Baja SAE – Rebel Racing team, last competition year (2019-2020) was the first time we integrated titanium into our vehicle designs. With our goals of aiming for the top spot of the podium in competitions, every ounce of vehicle weight that can be saved drastically helps us achieve these goals. The fabrication and material processing techniques during that time period greatly influenced our design signature when upgrading RR6 for the 2020-2021 competition year. Since the competition year of 2019-2020 was cancelled due to Covid-19 safety issues, Rebel Racer 6 (RR6) did not see much dynamic driving time during that year.
However the 2019-2020 competition year was not a complete loss for UNLV Baja SAE – Rebel Racing, during virtual design presentations we were able to take home an overall top 5 finish in all virtual presentations we competed in. Whether it was sales, design or cost presentation the usage and understanding of titanium definitely had a positive influence on our scores as we presented them during virtual presentations and the Performance Titanium Group provided our team the avenue to have a definite advantage over the virtual competition.
The 2019-2020 competition year was just a minor speed bump in our path and we always knew we would return back to the in-person designing, fabrication and testing for the Baja SAE series. Once our university opened to on-campus operations in August-September of 2020 for the fall semester, we were finally able to see our design(s) run as we were able to test drive RR6 through the normal testing scenarios. This testing time saw as much as 700 to 800 miles placed on the vehicle. This large amount of testing time placed endurance loads on the parts that we have never subjected our vehicles to. One instance of titanium part failure came from our front upright pins. RR6 had two front upright pins experience failure under live endurance vehicle testing.
After coming back to UNLV and analyzing the part failure we came to the conclusion that various radii and cross sectional areas needed to be improved to compliment the modulus of elasticity, strength and endurance limit of titanium. Throughout this whole process, PTG has helped us improve our design and provided us with knowledge and material to better design the pin to endure the loading scenarios that were seen from vehicle operations. A pressing issue when optimizing the weight of any system is preserving system strength and integrity. Grade 5 6AL-4V titanium was the clear choice for this part due to its high strength to weight ratio. Titanium’s usage, combined with various rounds of physical testing and design optimization, allowed us to reduce component weight by 45% and achieve an all-time low in overall suspension weight.
Along with changing our design signature, we have also changed our fabrication signature here at UNLV. After machining titanium for the first time last year we better understand the needs of the material and have upgraded the Thomas Beam Engineering (TBE) machine shop here at UNLV with the appropriate carbide tooling. Machining is not difficult when using the right tools and the correct feeds and speeds.
After the redesign and machine of the new components we were off to compete in the Arizona and Kentucky Baja SAE competitions. We are pleased to say that PTG’s contributions helped us secure the first competition trophy in the club’s history. At Arizona, the team secured 2nd place in the Acceleration event. Along with this position we also finished 1st Prototype Score Cost Report, 9th Design Presentation (Highest 2WD Score), 10th Suspension and Traction (AZ), 15th Sales and multiple other top 15 – 20 finishes.
After a year of learning, we are ready to get after it again! Last year we had quite a few growing pains with debuting a new vehicle during Covid-19 but we are better prepared to tackle the new challenges that await us this year. We are extremely grateful to all of our members, families and sponsors and will look to gain everyone that helps us the exposure that everyone deserves.
At the beginning (March) of this year PTG donated a large amount of titanium to our organization that we are currently working on designs for various components in the suspension, drivetrain and steering subsystems. Our team is greatly appreciative of all the support that PTG provides and looks forward to the future successes that we will have.
Visit the team at https://www.facebook.com/UNLVRebelRacing/ to learn more!