Lightweight chassis will reduce Atom's overall weight by almost 8 per cent
23 March 2013

Ariel is developing a titanium chassis for its Atom sports car that weighs 40 per cent less than the Atom's tubular steel frame, and is capable of reducing the car's overall weight by almost eight per cent.

Titanium is incredibly strong – it has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal – but it's also extremely difficult to fabricate. If exposed to oxygen during welding, titanium combusts before it melts, hence the necessity for a complicated, argon-filled welding chamber. 

The frame and the welding process have been developed alongside Frome-based Caged Laser Engineering, and part-funded for by the Technology Strategy Board’s Niche Vehicle Programme fund.

Ariel's Simon Saunders told Autocar that, when development is complete, "We'd like to do a limited edition. It would be a brilliant track car. The alternative would be to offer it as an option on the range."

With a naturally aspirated Honda engine and some other selected light components, the frame could help push a limited-edition Atom's weight below 500kg. "Our magic figure would start with a four," said Saunders, though he concedes that it would be difficult, and that 500kg on the nose would be a more likely target. 

When it was launched, the Atom had a very lightweight Rover K-Series engine. However, the current range of Honda engines are heavier, albeit far more reliable.

As well as proving useful on the Atom, however, Ariel thinks the experience it gains in working with titanium will also be useful on its future products, possibly including its forthcoming motorcycle.

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Comments
13

23 March 2013

Yes the weight goes down 8% and the price up by 80%. Wouldn't it be cheaper to go the carbon fibre route? I hope they get real gains out of the process that can be measured on the road and not in a lab.

GeToD

23 March 2013

They would have to completely redesign the car in carbon fibre from scratch.

Titanium would be an evolution of the existing chassis; same processes, similar jig, fancy welding..

23 March 2013

They should use a smaller engine.

If they purchae the cheap Ford 123bhp 1.0 engine and invest on revising that for high performance to 200bhp. They would have a great lightweight package.

 

23 March 2013

Aircraft undercarriages are still made from carbon steel, the toughest material avaliable, for the confined space of the undercarriage bay. Off course Undercarriages have to absorb one helluva a shock, on landing. Then there was a time when you could buy Magnesium wheels, but I haven't seen those for a while.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

23 March 2013

kcrally wrote:

Aircraft undercarriages are still made from carbon steel, the toughest material avaliable, for the confined space of the undercarriage bay. Off course Undercarriages have to absorb one helluva a shock, on landing. Then there was a time when you could buy Magnesium wheels, but I haven't seen those for a while.

The Boeing Jumbo jet has always had a Titanium undercarriage. There is an excellent book on the development of the 747 during the 1960's when Boeing had to do a deal with Russia to gain all the needed technical information to process the Titanium and machine it.

Magnesium wheels are available and a pricy option on motorcycles. Some motorcycles have engine cases cast from from magnesium. I owned a BMW R1100s in 1998 that had rocker covers of magnesium.

maxecat

25 March 2013

Maxecat wrote:

 There is an excellent book on the development of the 747 during the 1960's when Boeing had to do a deal with Russia to gain all the needed technical information to process the Titanium and machine it.

Do you remember the title, love these sort of books?

TBC

24 March 2013

I seem to recall that Reynolds produced a range of high strength low weight steel-alloy tubing; would none of their products be suitable, and less expensive, than this?

24 March 2013

Actually Reynolds have a great deal of expertise in butted steel chrome molybdenum steel tubing . The key phrase there is butted . Somehow Reynolds make the tubes of varying wall thickness so they are thicker where strength is required and thinner where it isnt . Saving weight .

As for Ariel I assume their frame will be an alloy of vanadium aluminium and titantium 4Al v Ti which looks fantastic when polished and of course is corrosion proof . Very very difficult to work though .

A cheaper frame could be made from high end aluminium ie 6061 and again this tubing could be a varying wall thickness to reflect stresses on the frame . Much easier  to weld too . Hydroforming is also used to stretch tubes to different cross sections to improve strength .

Another option is a mono coque frame two pressed and shaped halves of aluminium cups welded together to form varying box sections etc . 

Such has been the way of high end bicycle frame building for years . Its a much more technical field than you might expect it to be ! Everyone is moving over to carbon fibre now though . This would not be much mre expensive than ti on small production runs . 

An Ariel Reynolds partnership would be very good two Great British companies working together to make a marvellous car . Reynolds now have experience in carbon fibre too .

Oops sorry for being a trainspotter but my other interest is Mountain biking

TBC

24 March 2013

Many thanks Old Toad for an excellent detailed response.

24 March 2013

Ariel are developing a motorcycle! This is the first time I've heard that. Looking forward to see the result.

Cyborg

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