It’s been a couple of silent weeks from us here at UWS Solar Car. That’s because there has been A LOT going on. Here’s how to build a world-beating Solar Challenge car.
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25 engineering and industrial design students from UWS are working together to build a car powered entirely by the sun, ready for a race across the spine of Australia. In October next year the team will race the car from Darwin to Adelaide as the underdog, pitted against better funded rivals.
On top of usual studies, the exam weeks slowing us down and our wild, nerdy, young adult partying, we have finalised our mould, laid up our carbon twice and cooked it for big hours. Just like any recipe, creating a carbon monocoque shell had to adhere to strict procedures, recipes and timing.
First we created our plug, what you would have seen in recent weeks as what we were CNC milling. That was then assembled, bogged and sanded, bogged and sanded, bogged and sanded, just a little more bogging and sanding and then painted, prepped and made slick and smooth.
Following this some of our team pulled a 40-hour day laying on this mould, carbon fibre that is pre-impregnated with resin. After up to 7 layers on some parts of the car, making sure everything is smooth we installed glue film and then the nomex (the Kevlar based material used in batman’s suit described before).
The car was then vacuum bagged, and suction was applied, though we hit a number of problems and had to endure through it. Finally, this was all put into our homemade oven/shipping container for 14 hours.
This wasn’t the end of it all however. With our team adjourning to finally get sleep because we all would have ended up killing each other with any more time spent awake…..we came back basically every day that week to prep the cooked section for the next carbon layup.
This basically consisted of smoothing out some fine details for shape, then laying on more glue film and more carbon fibre to cook again. This took just as many hours to complete.
Finally this meant that we had a body for the car though, which is a great thing, though was a mess when we excavated the mould out of the finalised body.
It’s also an important note, that following our rejection from our SSAF bids, the university did pledge its full support behind us and is ensuring that we make it to the race well prepared and in good stead. Now in a secure position thanks to our uni, and our car coming out of the mould, we’re getting a much clearer picture of what our car will look like in the race. Particularly in our position compared to our competitors, and it looks good.