Car chassis from bike frames
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.