It takes around nine months to get from a concept to a finished racing car.
But how does this design and construction phase unfold?
It’s 1 July 2017 and we – the Scuderia Mensa racing team from the RheinMain University – are unveiling our new racing car to the public. Nine months of motivation, optimism and will to succeed. Not to mention hundreds of hours spent toiling in our sponsors’ workshops and manufacturing plants. All of these things eventually resulted in a powerful and competitive racing car.
A racing season needs to at least unfold like this one. A competing team is therefore successfully able to take part in the first Formula Student events in June. But what exactly does a structured blueprint look like? Which obstacles are to be faced by the participating students from the RheinMain University during this decision-making phase between semesters?
This is the name of the game at the end of October in the Scuderia Mensa’s weekly team meetings. The freshers are welcomed at the start of the month. After that, the previous season’s team leaders present the goals and work packages. We work on these together with the whole team and constructively evaluate them. The implementation of a common theme is one of the fundamental principles of the entire project. With an established timetable, this provides the team with a clear, easily recalled objective. Once this framework is in place, all team members are assigned to a department or a sub-project within the Formula Student remit. Here, the aim is primarily to distribute the available specialist knowledge evenly throughout the team.
It also balances out the strengths and weaknesses of the individual students if necessary.
Once the team structure, the respective work packages and the ideas for the different departments within the team have been defined, the design phase can begin around mid-November. It’s time to manufacture a finished CAD part from a design. During that period the computers in our team’s university offices run at full capacity. In this matter, experienced students join forces with new, highly motivated ones. We are therefore able to create a full, 3-dimensional design of all relevant parts in the new racing car by the end of January. The full car first sees the light of day in the subsequent digital mock-up, even if this is just a computer model for the time being.
Assembling instead of designing
3000 to 5000 (non-standardised and purchased) designed parts need to be technically appraised and reworked by us once again if necessary. After the end-of-semester exams in February, it’s then a case of assembling instead of designing. We compile an order list and are able to start with production after the arrival of the first parts. We prepare raw parts made from all materials together with a draft design of the respective part. Then we pass both of these on to our sponsors. There, these are then processed and manufactured for us within the space of a few working days.
Timing is of the essence during this phase. Several of the larger parts are only able to utilise the sponsors’ full capacity for a short time. Furthermore, some of our components can only be manufactured once we have assembled parts from our existing stock. Only by doing so can we free up space for new parts again. The team’s working hours shoot up from the start to the middle of May. This is when 20-30 students are working on their parts simultaneously in the workshop.
The transition from spring to summer heralds the end of production, with the racing car intended to be finished in mid-June. Then it’s a case of tweaking and testing when drivers and engineers get together in order to tune the car and clock up the first lap times.
During this process, the ride height of the car on the road, the aerodynamic components and the car’s electrical system are painstakingly tailored to the drivers’ needs.
Press representatives, sponsors, professors and family members, not to mention our friends and other invited guests (e.g. from public bodies) come face to face with our racing car in July. After a brief show followed by a presentation made by us, they are able to fire questions at our team members and experience the car up close and personally.
This year, we were once again thrilled at the number of visitors from various fields and from industry who attended the Scuderia Mensa’s roll-out.
Without further ado: Symphony blazes onto the world stage! – Watch the video here!
Perhaps you’ll even be able to make out the Herth+Buss logo!