Published on 24 January 2013
In February 1993 the McLaren 1 motor-racing team asked TWI to help with testing several new components. McLaren planned to race the 1994 season with vehicles containing lightweight carbon-fibre suspension members, the wishbone and track rod.
The performance of these new components was already under evaluation. Adhesive materials had been proposed to fix the titanium lugs to the ends of each wishbone and track rod where they attach to the car body.
To confirm the integrity of this adhesive layer, TWI was requested to look at the joint area. Engineers applied low kV radiography to inspect for possible variations in bondline thickness or disbonds. These preliminary tests showed the presence of a few disbonds, so real-time radiography was used to focus more accurately on these as each was rotated in the X-ray beam.
The tests were recorded on video using a real-time radiography imaging system. These recordings would provide a vital reference for the second stage of the investigation.
The vehicle parts were returned to McLaren for rigorous trials of 1000 laps under controlled conditions on a simulated Barcelona racetrack. Following the 'race trials' the components were re-examined at TWI.
Using the previous results as a comparison, it was clear that there had been no change in the condition of the bondline. This confirmed that the adhesive bonding technique had worked well and that it is a reliable joining method for this application.
McLaren was able to compete during the race season with increased confidence in its specialised vehicle components.
For information about TWI's capabilities please contact us.