by Tom O’Donnell
NUsolar members David, Andrew, and Crystal are working on completing the aerodynamic shell of the team’s new car, SC7. They are using WinCNC software to cut ten 3’ x 7’ white sheets of Ultra Plus, which is composed of high-quality extruded polystyrene foam between two layers of 1mm expanded PVC liner. It is extremely dent-resistant, warp-resistant and rigid.
WinCNC software works by using a computer to control a machine that cuts the materials to the exact specifications programmed. The process takes more than two hours to complete: 1 hour to set up the software program, 40 minutes to cut the sheets and 30 minutes to clean up. So far, four sheets have been completed and the team hopes to finish the remaining six sheets by the end of April.
The aeroshell, which will go over the steel frame of the car, helps improve the aerodynamics of the car and protects the insides of the car from the outside environment. The shell of NUsolar’s current car, SC6, is made out of carbon fiber. The team decided to make the change to Ultra Plus for SC7 because it is easier to use and will work just as well as carbon fiber did.
This project demonstrates one of the many ways NUsolar is similar to a small business. They deal with limited funds, work efficiently and experiment with new methods to create a better car.