A new manufacturing approach using techniques and technologies from Formula One will “revolutionise” mainstream car production, its creators have claimed.
The iStream system reduces vehicle body weight by up to 50%, said British design and engineering firm Gordon Murray Design (GMD). The process combines high-strength aluminium frames with advanced carbon-fibre composite panels.
GMD used the process to create a modular chassis, the iStream Superlight. Manufacturers could adapt it for different types of vehicles, the company claimed, “from sports cars and ultra-efficient electric city cars to SUVs and light commercial vehicles”.
The lightweight structure could make cars safer, less polluting and more durable, GMD said, with potential improvements for handling as well.
“It is a breakthrough that will deliver the lightest chassis technology for decades to come,” said company founder Gordon Murray, a renowned designer of Brabham Formula One cars and McLaren supercars. He called the chassis “a unique, adaptable and cost-effective way for manufacturers around the world to dramatically improve vehicle performance and efficiency”.
The structure uses a strong aluminium thin-wall tubular frame and recycled honeycomb carbon-composite chassis panels, in place of the stamped metal used in most volume car production. The design’s body-in-white structures are up to 50% lighter than stamped metal, while reportedly achieving “new levels of rigidity, durability and platform flexibility”.
The company also revealed a lightweight seat using the same iStream process. This achieved a weight reduction of up to 30%, GMD said, making it useful for planes and public transport as well as cars.
The iStream Superlight structure was part-funded by Innovate UK. A consortium led by GMD also included Bentley Motors, Brunel University London, Constellium, and Innoval Technology.
Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
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