Four intensive weeks in Kongsberg

April 02, 2014

For the last four weeks, members of our team have been in Kongsberg to produce the carbon fiber monocoque, rims, crash nose, wings and steering wheel. Hard work, dedication and close cooperation with our partner the Kongsberg Group has been necessary to finish the production. Here is some of the details of how our first ever monocoque and the rest of the parts were born.

Ever since the decision to develop a carbon fiber monocoque was made last summer, thousands of working hours have been put in to make the project possible. Packaging and integration of all significant parts has required the entire organization to finish design early, in order to utilize the possibilities of seamless integration of parts and systems in the monocoque. All the hours of planning, design and load computations were to be realized as the chassis of the car finally went into production.

The Kongsberg Group has been with the team since the 2013 season and is now our main sponsor. For four weeks Kongsberg Defence Systems has hosted our team at their aerostructure production facility, Arsenalet, providing support and working facilities for the project. Alongside helpful employees at the plant, our team has been working double shifts for four weeks straight. Without the flexibility and enthusiasm from the people at KDS, the production would not be possible. 24 hour availability to the production facilities and expertise at Arsenalet the entire period has been crucial for the project.

Producing a carbon fiber monocoque is a complex process which requires many steps. After the design was finished, plugs making a perfect model of the car was milled by Shape AS.

Milling the plugs at Shape AS

5 axis machining of the plugs at Shape AS

The milling machine put the finish touches on the upper plug

Finishing touches on the upper plug 

The plugs were then prepared for epoxy coating, and coated by SYD Lakksenter in Trondheim (which has painted both of our previous cars) in order to achieve the best possible surface finish on the final product.

Coated and polished upper plug

Coated and polished upper plug

The plugs were polished and tooling prepreg was used to cast negative moulds. When the negative tooling was finished, the top and bottom part was bolted together to make the closed mould that was used for the actual lay up.

Working on the two-part monocoque mould

Working on the closed monocoque mould

Finally, the work of laying up the carbon fiber outer skin could be started. Using FiberSim, provided by Summit Systems, to simulate the layup and a CNC cutter to cut the carbon fiber plies, the layup becomes similar to a complex puzzle.

CNC machine cutting plies, simulated in FiberSim

CNC machine cutting plies, simulated in FiberSim

Outer skin ready for first debulk

Outer skin ready for first debulk

After curing the outer skin, foam and honeycomb core material was carefully placed, along with different inserts to support the loads of parts attached to the structure. After another curing, the final step, laying the inner carbon fibre skin was done.

Piecing the two parts together

Piecing the two parts together

Splicing of core and inserts

Splicing of core and inserts

After the final cure the monocoque was finished, in spite of some difficulties when releasing the mould from the actual part, one of the most important parts of our new car was born!

Demoulding of the monocoque

Demoulding of the monocoque

Critical areas are under examination by X-ray

Critical areas are under examination by X-ray

Along with the monocoque production, many other carbon fiber parts has been produced; 12 rim shells, wing elements for the aero package, 4 crash noses and the steering wheel have been made during the four weeks.

Examination of a “new born” rim shell

Examination of a “new born” rim shell

Rim shells, crash noses as well as dashboard and steering wheel

Rim shells, crash noses as well as dashboard and steering wheel

Front wing, just out of the mould!

Front wing, just out of the mould!

The results are impeccable, and without the help and support from the people at Arsenalet it would not be possible. Because of this we are extremely thankful to the team at Arsenalet and the Kongsberg Group for making the use of complex materials and production methods possible. The experience these complex projects give to our members is unique and the final product is greatly enhanced by utilizing the strengths and possibility of carbon fiber structures. Four very intense weeks of hard work is over and we have successfully produced our first monocoque, along with many other crucial parts. We are very happy with the result and look forward to start assembly of the entire car!

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