World’s first carbon fibre space frame car

27/11/2015

Situation

Axon Automotive was approached by its customer to produce an ultra-stiff frame based on their existing vehicle design. The existing design was in use as a track day car based around a steel space frame. This was giving a very light vehicle but it lacked the stiffness to entering competitive events. The customer was considering entering professional racing events and wanted a stiffer vehicle platform for this purpose.

Task

  1. To produce a design for a carbon fibre structure that would be significantly stiffer than the steel alternative without adding to the weight of the vehicle
  2. To produce a design for a carbon fibre structure that would fit within the track day car’s styling envelope to preserve the vehicle’s brand on the race track
  3. To produce a vehicle structure that could be quickly and easily repaired due to the frequency of crashes in the target racing series
  4. To produce a prototype for the customer to demonstrate the viability of the solution as a running car

Outputs

Axon worked closely with the customer to understand the current packaging constraints and the proposed powertrain and suspension solutions. At the same time the companies worked together to define both the target weights and stiffness for the final racing vehicle.

The frame was designed as three elements that bolted together. A front and rear assembly and a central passenger cell. The front and rear assemblies were designed to be quickly and easily removed such that in the event of a crash the vehicle could be repaired and back on the track at the same race event. The vehicle design needed this level of reparability while still increasing the stiffness over the existing one piece welded frame.

Axon then produced a frame design using Axontex™ that would meet the customer’s requirements. Following customer design approval Axon then produced both the tooling and a sample chassis. The tooling utilised was purposefully selected to offer low cost for a limited run of a prototype product.

Finally using parts supplied by the customer the company also assembled a finished vehicle in a running condition.

Benefits

  • The final design demonstrated approximately a fourfold increase in stiffness
  • Front and rear structures were incorporated to enhance reparability while still retaining the increased stiffness from a carbon fibre structure
  • The fully assembled vehicle demonstrated the viability of Axontex™ to form the complete structure of a performance car
  • The tooling solution selected demonstrated the ability of Axon Automotive to produce cost effective, low volume vehicle structures.

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