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Design and Analysis of an Optimized Formula 3 Nosecone Structure



In order to ensure the driver safety in motorsport crashes, special crash structures are designed to absorb the race car’s kinetic energy and limit the decelerations acting on the human body. The use of Carbon fibre epoxy as a primary structural material has been evident in the motorsport industry. By utilizing monolithic structure for crash, large amount of energy can be absorbed. However, the energy absorbing capacity, unlike metals, is highly dependent on the geometry, number of layups and layup orientation angles. By optimizing the plies and the orientation along the geometric cross-section, the deceleration of the vehicle can be controlled. For the FIA crash test regulations, the deceleration was limited to 5g’s for the first 150mm of crushing and the average deceleration was limited to 25g’s. By dividing the geometry into sections, the ply orientation, and number of plies were varied. This resulted in a nosecone structure weighing around 2.1 kgs, but able to meet the above requirements. From the research1 it is evident that the Specific Energy Absorption (SEA) is not only a function of geometric cross-section (φ) but also the angle of attack (β). The angles of attack were varied from 5.5° to 32.5° and the effects on SEA were observed. The dynamic simulations were conducted in explicit solver LS-DYNA using Mat_ENHANCED_COMPOSITE_DAMAGE material model (MAT54). The simulation results were validated with crush test data for energy absorbed.


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