After being put in charge of designing the steering rack for this year’s Baja racecar, Cornell University student Melaney Chen (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering ’19) was determined to address the issue of steering slop. In Baja competitions, responsive and quick steering is imperative for a successful run. After experiencing bushing wear on the car in previous years, Chen went on the hunt for a material with better wear properties. What she found was Quadrant’s Nylatron® NSM—a material with a low coefficient of friction and excellent wear. Quadrant donated Nylatron® NSM to the team for use as bearings in their car’s suspension and steering system.
“Nylatron® NSM is far more machinable than metal—we can take much larger passes and can run at higher speeds on the lathe, so overall machining time is decreased. Nylatron® is also self-lubricating, which reduces wear and ensures smooth movement at moving joints (for example the ball joints and the suspension links), improving overall and long-term performance,” says Chen. “Nylatron® is strong enough for the expected loads on our bushings, and it is much lighter [than metal], so using Nylatron® allows us to cut weight,” she adds.
The race, held May 19-22 in Gorman, California, was hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). After leading for the majority of the four-hour endurance race, the Cornell Baja car experienced a sub frame component failure. However, the team of 49 students left with a number of accolades, including 1st Place – Overall Design; 2nd Place – Overall Dynamics Events; 2nd Place – Suspension and Traction; 2nd Place – Maneuverability; and 3rd Place – Acceleration. Click HERE to see the Nylatron® NSM bearings in action!
The 2016-17 Cornell Baja Race Team is split into six sub-teams: drivetrain, suspension, unsprung, frame, electronics, and business. It is one of the many ‘project teams’ at Cornell University, all of which involve students in hands-on engineering projects. Other project teams build Mars rovers, rockets, and autonomous underwater vehicles. By designing and building the car from scratch, students learn the entire engineering process, including designing, modeling, analyzing, manufacturing, testing, troubleshooting, and evaluating.
“One thing I personally value highly is the experience we gain in facing mistakes and failure. We learn a lot from each mistake and work together to improve. At competition, we are faced with component failures and breakdowns that make us think on our feet and react creatively,” adds Chen.
Developed specifically for demanding applications, Nylatron® NSM outperforms all other “premium” wear grade materials. Ideal for bearings and wear pads, the material offers superior wear resistance, weight and noise reduction, corrosion resistance, and easy machining.
“…the chemical resistance of certain polymers is invaluable to industry. We, for example, use HDPE that Quadrant also generously sponsored to do our carbon-fiber layups. We need this material for its resistance to the chemicals it would consistently see,” says Chen. “I see the evolution of polymers as a huge opportunity to develop materials that meet specific engineering needs.”
Just as Melaney and Cornell University utilized Quadrant materials to solve their problem, we invite anyone from design engineers to maintenance personnel to reach out to Quadrant. Bring us your part, print, or problem and we’ll work with you to provide the ideal material solution.