Spring Break: Heatin’ Up

Happy Monday! For readers not in tune with Stanford’s academic schedule, today is the first day of spring break, or as we call it at SSCP, Composites Week!

VAIL shop manager Larry drove to Mount Vernon, WA to pick up our molds!
Kenyon unloading

The team had a crazy last couple weeks of our winter quarter – on top of finishing classes and taking our finals, we realized very late in the game that our autoclave access off-site was going to fall through. This kicked off a frenzy of oven-hunting, and we quickly realized that our new car design was too odd a shape to fit in any but the largest ovens. Although we kept searching for a new oven sponsor, we decided it was time to put together a plan B, and a crew of our mechanical engineers designed and built a custom oven in the space of about 3 weeks.

Jasmine, Sam, Jean Marc and Simon framing the oven
Kenyon, Suhas, and alumni/self described ‘fun uncle’ Harry Johnson inspecting the duct work
Drake checking internal temperatures with the FLIR
Fit checking the oven

Cut forward to the present day, and the team is happy to report that our oven has been formally approved by the fire marshal at Stanford and we’ll be completing our first cure this evening! Composites Week, for those unfamiliar with team traditions, involves many of the most committed members of the team staying on campus over spring break (or sometimes in the past, the first week of winter break) to lay up the carbon fiber aerobody of our car. This spring break, we have 20 team members on campus working full time and into the night if necessary to finish all of our layups on time. Starting on Saturday, we got the team oriented and completed our first set of layups: the spare set of wheel covers for the car, to get everyone some practice building parts and have a small piece to validate our oven. Today, with a touch of experience under our belt, we’re kicking off the real work and laying up our first full topshell.

We’re using two molds to shape the car, a top half and a bottom half that we’ll bond together as necessary after the composites work is done. Over the course of the week, we’re planning to bake four sets of parts: one bottom shell, two sets of wheel covers, a spare topshell for dynamic vehicle testing and a race topshell that will support our solar array.

Shoutout (and enormous thank you) to our sponsors at Hudson Boatworks and SpaceX for donating the prepreg carbon that we’re using to build our car! These material donations go a long way in making the car a reality and the team is very grateful for them. We’re excited to share our progress this week and keep moving towards the finished product!

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