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Manufacturing Arctan: Winter & Spring Update

It’s been a while since our last lengthy update, and since then we’ve built up a good portion of our next car.

Our manufacturing cycle began in earnest over our Spring Break, when we received our car molds from Christensen Fiberglass Tooling and completed all of our carbon fiber layups. This marked our composites season, where we laid up and baked the carbon fiber aerobody shell in a week of dedicated construction time.

Unloading one of our molds from the semi-truck, with the help of two forklifts

Unloading one of our molds from the semi-truck, with the help of two forklifts.

Many hands helping out with the topshell layup over our Spring Break composites season. Photo Emily Henriksson

Prior to that, we spent Winter Quarter finishing up design work and preparing for the manufacturing phase of our cycle. We finalized the design for our chassis and sent out the carbon aluminum honeycomb panels to be water-jet cut with Keller Industries. Machining began for mechanical components, and our Composites team led the construction of the oven that we would use to bake the car molds.

Rachel takes care of a few manual milling operations to make steering configuration components

Rachel takes care of a few manual milling operations to make steering configuration components.

With the oven ready to go and our car molds delivered via two semi trucks, we went from no car to a complete top and bottom shells in one week (always a fairly incredible sight to behold; stay tuned for a great GoPro time lapse of it all!). We carried this momentum into spring quarter, spending many hours trimming carbon, bonding the chassis, gluing inserts, and then finally onto body work. For a brief period in May, we turned the interior of VAIL into a winter scene with bondo dust, as we sanded every surface to perfection in preparation for the car’s vinyl wrap.

Perfecting the trailing edge of our car prior to vinyl wrapping

Perfecting the trailing edge of our car prior to vinyl wrapping.

Body work began with the access panels; here Hayden uses a long sanding block to achieve a flat and smooth surface.

Body work began with the access panels; here Hayden uses a long sanding block to achieve a flat and smooth surface.

Meanwhile, all the interior components of the car started to come together. Alert Tubing Fabricators helped us make our roll cage in Illinois, and Bell Plastics thermoformed our front windscreen. Suspension components were machined both in house and sent-out to manufacturers such as Gonsel’s Machine Shop and Stratasys. Members of the Mechanical Team saw their projects come to fruition, from the steering configuration to seat belt mounts to door linkage. Components for our new battery back began to arrive at the shop, for which assembly is ongoing.

Surface preparing inserts prior to gluing into car. Surface preparation is important to ensure proper bond strength!

Surface preparing inserts prior to gluing into car. Proper surface preparation is critical in ensuring bond strength.

An example of the result of many hours of craftsmanship--nicely capped chassis panel & glued inserts! Exposed aluminum honeycomb aluminum is covered with a black epoxy mix.

An example of the result of many hours of craftsmanship–nicely capped chassis panel (& glued inserts in background). Exposed aluminum honeycomb aluminum is covered with a dyed-black epoxy and microbubble mix.

In late May, we delivered our completed aerobody to a vendor for vinyl wrapping. We recently received our car back, just in time to lay down our completed solar array. The Array Team has put many diligent hours into crafting the near-seamless and highly efficient, six-square meter top surface of our car.

Masking the edges of the array module prior to gap-filling

Masking the edges of the array modules with Kapton tape prior to gap-filling. Photo from Instagram via @tupacsbandanna

Our next major deadline is having the car externally complete for wind-tunnel testing, which will occur in mid-June at Aerodyn Wind Tunnel in North Carolina. The Electrical and Code Teams are meanwhile hard at work integrating and installing the boards that will drive our car; following this we’ll be ready to begin a summer of testing and race-preparation.

Here are a few more photos from one of recent work sessions, about a week before leaving for the wind tunnel!

Spot welding together a battery pack module

Emily welding together a battery pack module for our test battery pack. Photo Anna Olson

Working on door linkage

Susan happy to see the door linkage coming together, preparing final components to be glued. Photo Anna Olson

Matt and Harry carefully laying down a solar array module at the front of the car

Matt and Harry carefully laying down a solar array module at the front of the car. Photo Anna Olson

Final trimming prior to gluing in the front windscreen

Lisa does some final trimming prior to gluing in the front windscreen. Photo Anna Olson

Laying down the solar array + CNC machining

Laying down the solar array + CNC machining. Photo Anna Olson

In case you missed it, WSC released the list of teams competing teams in all three classes. And stay posted for more updates from our various sub-teams about the new processes, challenges, and triumphs that have gone into constructing Arctan thus far. We’ll be officially unveiling our project’s latest car early in July, and are excited to share this continued journey!

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