Car chas­sis from bike frames

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

A TRIO of Bri­tish com­pa­nies has pro­duced the world’s first car chas­sis us­ing butted tub­ing tech­nol­ogy taken from bi­cy­cle pro­duc­tion.

Fa­mous bi­cy­cle tube mak­ers Reynolds Tech­nol­ogy, high- qual­ity Com­puter Aided En­gi­neer­ing ( CAE) con­sul­tancy Sim­pact and sports car maker Cater­ham Cars, shaved more than 10% off the weight of the al­ready light­weight chas­sis of the iconic Cater­ham Seven.

The re­search and devel­op­ment project un­veiled a pro­to­type Seven us­ing the new tech­nol­ogy and pro­cesses at the Niche Ve­hi­cle Net­work Sym­po­sium, held in March.

Reynolds, which first patented the process for mak­ing butted tubes in 1897, pro­vided the tub­ing tech­nol­ogy for the ini­tia­tive and had to de­velop new tool­ing and pro­cesses.

Mean­while, Sim­pact En­gi­neer­ing con­ducted the vir­tual anal­y­sis and test­ing to de­rive the spec­i­fi­ca­tion and po­si­tion­ing of butted tub­ing and Cater­ham built the first pro­to­type car. Butted tubes are thicker at the ends than in the mid­dle, mean­ing that the frames can be both strong and light­weight.

By us­ing low- cost mild steel rather than more “ex­otic” al­loys, the project made large mass re­duc­tions of up to 50% on some parts with­out los­ing any of the chas­sis’ tor­sional stiff­ness or strength. The tubes will sell from about R20 100, or £ 1 000, as an op­tion.

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