We have a shell!

Posted: 3rd May 2012 by Alex Zhu in Uncategorized

We have completed both the top shell and bottom shell of our upcoming car! The process of doing carbon fiber layups on our molds and taking our molds to Precision Quincy to be cured in their industrial oven took 6 days. We did the very first layups on the top shell Thursday night, and the bottom shell was cured at Precision Quincy yesterday, but we brought it back this morning. Throughout the last 6 days, the team spent over 65 hours completing the carbon fiber layups, transporting them between Northwestern and Precision Quincy, and monitoring the oven cures. All while still attending our regular classes, or at least trying our best to.

Here are some team members working on the carbon fiber layups. We did most of the layup work at night, then brought them to Precision Quincy as early as possible in the morning for a full day of oven time. We did the top shell layup in one marathon all-night session, but the bottom shell had a more complicated shape, and we spent multiple days on it.

Applying surfacing film to the top shell mold. Surfacing film gives a smooth exterior surface.

Adding a carbon fiber layer over film adhesive on the bottom shell. Film adhesive goes between Nomex and carbon fiber sheets, and helps the two bond to each other.

This is the enormous oven we cured our layups in, towering over Jonathan to the left. ¬†We haven’t done any calculations, but you could probably bake a cookie for every student at Northwestern (16,475 students) in one go using it.

Here are the top and bottom shells freed from their molds. The excess carbon fiber on the edges still needs to be trimmed off, but the parts do not appear to have any major problems.

Top shell

Bottom Shell

It is very exciting to be done with this crucial step of creating our upcoming car, especially because we can see it’s final shape now. However, we still have a lot of work to do, such as creating reinforcing ribs to give the car strength, so stay tuned for more updates!

See more from our layup process at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WeRaceSolarCars, and be sure to Like us on Facebook as well!

  1. It was a pleasure having the students from Northwestern here to use our oven to cure the composite materials for their car. Good luck.