Posted in | Automotive Materials

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH Supports Formula Student Electric KA-Raceing Team

Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH supports the aspirations of many promising vehicle developers by sponsoring the Formula Student Electric KA-Raceing Team from the University of Karlsruhe Germany.  Originally held in the USA as Formula SAE, the Formula Student idea has grown into an international design engineering competition where university students build a single-seat formula racecar with which they can compete against more than 500 teams from all over the world.

The competition is not won solely by the team with the fastest car but rather the team with the best overall package of construction, performance, and financial and sales planning.  Each team is composed of students with a wide variety of disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, industrial engineering, economics and physics.

In 2015, the KA-Raceing team from the University of Karlsruhe Germany won four special awards: Daimler Best High Voltage Powertrain Implementation, Daimler Best E-Drive Packaging, Audi Best Lightweight Concept and Continental Sportsmanship Award.  At the beginning of 2016, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH was approached by the KA-Raceing Team to support them with components for the gearbox of their KIT16e electric race car.  The challenging application and excitement of working with university students made the decision easy for the manufacturing and design engineering organization to support their request as a sponsor.  Christian Elz, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH’s specialist for gearboxes (based in Wertheim, Germany), designed Meldin® thrust washers for the gearbox.

The huge know-how in materials and manufacturing possibilities combined with personal and fast consulting led to an amazing collaboration with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH, especially with Mr. Elz. Because of this, there was never a problem reacting to changes on the gearbox design, switching designs on the washers, or building the best thrust washers for the gearbox.

Johannes Kern, KA-Raceing - Gearbox Engineer

The Meldin® thrust washers developed for the gearbox is from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics L+S GmbH’s polymer product line, which is often used in automotive applications such as transmission, powertrain and steering and available in compression or injection molded, machined components and basic shapes.  The material was selected due to its excellent tribological and mechanical critical properties, having a temperature range from cryogenic through +600°F (+316°C) for continuous operation and may be used intermittently up to +900°F (+482°C).

After a few minor iterations, the design was finalized, parts were produced in Saint-Gobain’s facility in Bristol, USA, and then successfully tested.  The collaborative project came to a rewarding outcome when the 2016 roll out took place on April 27 at the Audimax of the University of Karlsruhe campus.  With 800 guests attending, the event took several highlighting turns as four cars were seen racing down a small circuit.  Preparations continue for the main event at the Hockenheimring races from August 9 until 14, 2016.

To learn more about Saint-Gobain Performance Plastic L+S GmbH or Saint-Gobain Seals, please visit www.seals.saint-gobain.com.

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