epm: technology at the Farnborough International Airshow 2016

We are proud to announce that epm: technology group will be exhibiting for the very first time at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow.

You can find us in Hall 4 on stand A10 – come and see all that we have to offer the aerospace sector.

The Farnborough Airshow is a week-long event which began in 1948. The event combines both a trade-show and awe-inspiring public air displays, making it a must-visit for anyone passionate about all things aerospace.

We’ve come a long way since 1996, and our participation in the show at Farnborough is another great chapter in our story.

Celebrating the return of the European Grand Prix

Previously held at five different circuits (Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Jerez, Nürburgring and Valencia) the European Grand Prix has a rich history within Formula 1.

This weekend, the event returns in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, and we couldn’t be more excited.

One of the biggest sporting events ever to be held in Azerbaijan, a unique street circuit has been specially constructed for the race weekend. Designed by Hermann Tilke, it is the second-longest track on the F1 calendar behind Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Baku Trivia:

1. Home to the longest straight on the F1 calendar at 2.1km/1.305 miles

2. 6.006km/3.732 miles long in total

3. 62 gear changes per lap, 3,162 per race

4. First anti-clockwise circuit of the 2016 season

To celebrate the first European Grand Prix since 2012, we have collected three of our most memorable moments from the event since its inception.

Senna’s incredible first lap at Donington Park

Torrential rain didn’t stop Ayrton, as he masterfully cruised past four cars during the first lap of this classic race.

Mark Webber’s airborne crash at Valencia

Perhaps a true testament to the progress made with safety in the sport, Mark Webber survived this spectacular crash which ended with his car upside-down in the barrier.

Fernando Alonso’s emotional victory in his home country

Starting an incredible 11th on the grid, Fernando Alonso took a surprise victory at Valencia in 2012, driving one of the greatest races of his career so far.

What are your most memorable moments?

Beijing Motor Show – The cars that stole the headlines

Last week saw a host of big-name car manufacturers debut their exciting new models at the Beijing Motor Show.

From longer wheelbases to electric concept cars, these are our picks for the cars that really stood out from the crowd.

Porsche 718 Cayman

(Image courtesy of Porsche)

The new Cayman certainly looks the part, but it’s also reported to have improved fuel economy from the previous model. The standard version of the two-seater uses a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo and is said to cover 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, while the faster S version uses a 345bhp 2.5-litre and takes just 4.2 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB

(Image courtesy of Car and Driver)

140mm longer than the regular sedan and with a total length of over 5 metres, this business limousine will be in Chinese showrooms by the end of summer.

Smart Brabus

(Image courtesy of Auto Express)

The most powerful version of the two-seater to ever be mass-produced, the 2017 Brabus has an output of 109hp. It also has a Brabus performance sports suspension with specially adapted ESP, sports power steering and a dynamic configuration of the twinamic dual-clutch transmission with Race Start function.

Audi TT RS

(Image courtesy of Auto Express)

In Coupe form, the new RS is said to cover 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds. With power upped to 394bhp and the addition of both direct and indirect fuel injection, Audi claims to have retained the engine’s unique rich sound whilst saving weight and lowering fuel consumption.

BAIC Arcfox-7

(Image courtesy of Autocar)

Perhaps the most visually striking of the lot, this electric supercar from BAIC turned heads at the event. With a design inspired by Formula E cars, the Arcfox-7 is powered by a 6.6kWh battery pack connected to a 603bhp electric motor. Official figures state it can reach 60mph in less than 3 seconds with a top speed of 162mph. Can they take on Tesla?

Featured image courtesy of Top Gear.

Carbon Fibre – shaping the automotive industry

Not just reserved for cutting-edge Formula 1 cars, Carbon fibre is also making a large impact on the automotive industry as a whole, with composite materials increasing in popularity and slowly progressing into mainstream markets.

We take a look at three recent uses of carbon fibre and why the material was chosen for the task.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Image courtesy of www.roadandtrack.com

Due for release next year, this plug-in hybrid uses an 8.8kwh battery with a 22 mile electric-only range. Although an impressive upgrade on the previous model (which had only 12), the extra weight of the larger battery required savings to be made in other areas. Toyota used carbon fibre for the rear hatch, which saved around 8lbs and increased the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Composite materials offer a weight-saving attribute without compromising the structural integrity of their traditional counterparts.

BMW 7-Series

Image courtesy of www.carscoops.com

The 2016 BMW 7-series uses carbon fibre strategically throughout the chassis. The material is present in the A, B and C pillars and roof of the vehicle—which not only conserves weight but also reduces chassis flex. This, along with a lower centre of gravity from the lighter roof, helps to improve handling. As one material in a complex project, carbon fibre components can be used to improve performance through clever application and engineering.

Ford Ecoboost engine

Image courtesy of www.topgear.com

In a concept unveiled earlier this year at the Detroit Motor Show, Ford’s next generation lightweight Ecoboost units are due to have a 15.5% overall weight deduction. Carbon fibre is to be used in the cylinder head, front cover and oil pan which also improves NVH. Although often thought of in a more structural context, carbon fibre has knock-on benefits that can result in improvements to drive comfort.

Featured image courtesy of www.motortrend.com

3 planes that changed the course of modern aviation

Since the Wright brothers invented the world’s first successful airplane, there have been countless innovations within the aerospace sector.

In partnership with a number of aerospace experts here at epm: technology group, we examine the history behind three aircraft models which have been undoubtedly influential to modern aviation through both their design and technological advances.

Concorde

The first model is arguably the most famous. Way ahead of its time, the well-loved supersonic aircraft flew around 2.5 million passengers up until its withdrawal in 2003.

The origins of Concorde date back to the 1950s when the idea of a supersonic passenger plane gained momentum due to aviator Chuck Yeager’s blast through the sound barrier. In 1962, the French president Charles de Gaulle made a plea for Britain and France to co-operate in building an aircraft which focused on speed rather than increased passenger capacity, as was the trend at the time. Due to the insistence that the aircraft should fly at supersonic speed, the model was deemed too expensive for any one country to fund alone. The word “Concorde” was first mentioned in reference to the supersonic aircraft project in 1963 during a speech by the French president. Britain referred to the aircraft initially as “Concord” without the ‘e’.

The project did not come without hitches however, as Britain’s new Labour government announced their withdrawal from the project in 1964, only to change their minds the following year. In 1967, in front of over a thousand onlookers, the first prototype French Concorde was rolled out in Toulouse. During this event, British technology minister Anthony Wedgwood Benn announced that the British aircraft would now also be known as “Concorde”, this time with the added ‘e’, which stood in his words for “excellence, England, Europe and entente”. In 1968, the British prototype made its debut.

Both models made their first flights in 1969, and began commercial service at Air France and British Airways in 1976. Before it was certified for passenger flight however, Concorde endured over 5,000 hours of testing – making it the most tested aircraft of all time.

Concorde measured 62.10m in length, was 11.40m high and had a wing span of 25.56m. Due to the heating of the airframe, it stretched between six and ten inches during flight meaning that all surfaces were warm to the touch by the end of a flight. To compensate for this, it was painted in a specially developed white paint to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight.

Powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 engines, it seated 100 passengers, had a take-off speed of 220 knots (250mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph – more than twice the speed of sound. It was revolutionary in many ways, including being the first aircraft to have computer-controlled engine air intakes and carbon fibre brakes decades before they became mainstream technology. The innovative engine air intakes made it possible to slow the air down by 1,000 mph in the space of around 4.5s. Without this, the engines would have blown apart.

When travelling by Concorde, it was even possible for passengers to see the curvature of the earth as the plane could fly up to an amazing 60,000 feet.

A typical London to New York crossing took less than three and a half hours compared to approximately eight hours for a subsonic flight, and Concorde also holds the record for the fastest crossing by a civil aircraft. The quickest ever Concorde flight from New York to London took only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 29 seconds in 1996. Perhaps more impressively, Concorde flew around the world in 29 hours, 59 minutes in 1986, covering 28, 238 miles during that time.

Tragically, the Concorde project came to an end in 2003 following a fatal crash in 2000 which claimed the lives of 113 people and crippled investment for the venture; but it will always be remembered as a piece of pioneering engineering in the aerospace sector. A dreamer’s feat that broke new ground in travelling at great speeds.

Boeing 747 – the original “Jumbo Jet”

The Boeing 747, otherwise known as the “Jumbo Jet” or “Queen of the Skies”, is one of the most distinctive and successful planes of all time. With its famous shape, characterised by the ‘hump’ which contains the upper deck usually reserved for first class passengers, the 747 fleet has flown more than half of the world’s population.* Although its days are now numbered, as the first wide-body ever produced it has transformed the aerospace industry as we know it today.

Releasing the 747 was a big gamble in the late 1960s as supersonic travel, like the Concorde mentioned earlier, was seen as the future. Boeing stuck to their guns however, and built a hangar for the plane’s construction which was so large that, by volume, it remains the biggest building ever made. A team of around 50,000 construction workers, mechanics, engineers, secretaries and administrators – often referred to as “The Incredibles” – made aviation history by building the aircraft in less than 16 months.

The Boeing 747 is assembled from around 6 million parts, half of which are fasteners or rivets. The fuselage is a framework of beams and ribs in the shape of a large tube. All parts are made from lightweight aluminium alloys and the aluminium is mixed with various other metals such as copper and zinc to make it tougher. The outer skin of the plane is just five millimetres thick, and between the outer skin and internal panels there are soundproof and heat-resistant materials.

The 747 is 19.35 metres high, 76 metres long and seats a maximum of 660 passengers. This capability was a large factor in the success of the aircraft. When the 747 debuted, it meant that there was a large increase in the number of passengers it was possible to transport per flight, which brought down the per-seat cost of operation. This gave airlines the opportunity to offer flights to new, exciting destinations around the world.

The aircraft was a big hit with customers, as it meant that they had the chance to travel in comfortable conditions for less money. For many years, the 747 was considered the gold standard for passenger air travel. Sir Richard Branson launched his airline with a 747 flight, and modified versions of the 747 were often used to transport space shuttles.

It is sad to think that this giant of an aircraft could disappear from our skies in the near future, but the aerospace industry is once again beginning to focus more on speed than capacity. Technological advances in the reliability of turbofan engines have also meant that the 747’s four are no longer needed, with trends shifting towards two-engined ‘mini jumbos’ instead. That said, this plane will forever remain iconic.

*britishairways.com

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is one of the most revolutionary aircraft designs of recent years, and Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner in a time when the health of the planet is a big issue on everyone’s minds.

The development of the 787 began in the early 1990s when Boeing decided that they needed a replacement for their aging 767 model. With competition from Concorde, speed became a desirable feature. With this in mind, Boeing floated the idea of a sub-sonic cruiser which would dramatically reduce journey times whilst staying below the speed of sound. Boeing’s issue with the speeds attained by Concorde was that it meant the aircraft could only be operated over water, which made it unsaleable to most airlines.

The sub-sonic cruiser attracted a fair amount of interest, but the idea never had the chance to come to fruition. The 9/11 attacks in 2001 had a devastating effect on the aerospace industry, sending fuel costs skyrocketing and causing airlines to shift their focus from speed to efficiency.

Unveiled as the “Dreamliner” in 2003 after an online competition, was instead a plane which ran at a similar speed to most of today’s fastest passenger planes, (Mach 0.85) but quietly innovated in other ways.

The 787 is the first commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage and wings. The model contains approximately 77,000 lb of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) made with 51,000 lb of carbon fibre. As we know here at epm, the use of composite materials allows for a significantly lighter aircraft, therefore making it an unbelievable 20% more fuel efficient than other equivalent models being flown today. Boeing also claims that the 787 makes 60% less noise. One of the other most interesting aspects of the 787 is that it uses powerful Lithium-ion batteries on a large scale for the first time. By using more electric systems on board, the 787 does not require bleed air from the engines for the likes of air conditioning, which also helps to save an incredible amount of fuel.

As the aerospace industry continues to evolve, we enjoy seeing more and more developments of both old and new ideas in designs which incorporate engineering skill and technology that we have acquired in the centuries since the Wright Brothers made their first flight.

In brief – other planes that broke the mould:

Airbus A320 – First airliner to implement fly-by-wire controls which reduced arm fatigue for pilot

Rutan Model 76 Voyager – The first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refuelling

rutan-model-76-voyager

Image source: Wikimedia.org

MacCready Gossamer Albatross – The first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel

gossamer-albatross

Image source: Wikimedia.org

F1 2016 roars into action in Barcelona

With reduced testing time and two years of Mercedes domination, teams had to work harder than ever in the off-season in order to make it to Barcelona with their 2016 cars in tow.

“Over the Christmas break the teams have been designing and developing this season’s cars and team epm have exceeded themselves once again to produce world class parts. We supplied many vital components to various teams ready in time to reveal the new liveries and get the cars to the test track.”George, Year in industry placement

New year, new regulations

Although the technical regulations have remained fairly stable, there are a number of small changes which will come into force this season. Most notably, Pirelli have introduced a new “ultrasoft” tire compound, marked by a purple stripe, which is to be used on street circuits. The number of power units to be used throughout the season by each driver has also been increased from four to five.

Image courtesy of Pirelli.

Team changes

The sport welcomes Haas F1 Team as a new addition to the grid. Established by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Gene Haas, the team hopes a close relationship with Ferrari will help with development throughout the year. The former Lotus F1 team has also become known as Renault Sport Formula 1 Team after a buyout from the French automobile manufacturer. This means they will become the Renault works team, taking over from Red Bull, who will effectively become a customer team — continuing to use Renault engines re-badged as Tag Heuer.

The former Marussia F1 team has also had a request granted to change their name to Manor Racing, making a switch from Ferrari to Mercedes power. Scuderia Toro Rosso meanwhile will return to using Ferrari power units after a brief spell with Renault.

Driver line-up

There have been a number of key changes to the driver line-up, with Romain Grosjean leaving Lotus to join Haas F1 alongside returning driver Esteban Gutiérrez, and 2014 GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer replacing Grosjean at Lotus alongside Kevin Magnussen. Manor racing have signed one-year contracts with rookie drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto — the latter becoming the first ever Indonesian driver to compete in the championship.

New tracks

The German Grand Prix will return to the Hockenheimring after the race was cancelled in 2015, and the European Grand Prix will return once again in a new guise at a street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The cars

In the run-up to the first testing day on 22nd February, many cars turned heads for their striking design and livery changes.

Ferrari’s SF16-H sees the team revert to push-rod suspension along with many detailed aerodynamic upgrades, whilst Mercedes have opted for what they have termed “mini revolutions” on the inside of their W07.

Mclaren’s MP4-31 has been referred to as “beautiful” by the team’s double-world champion driver Fernando Alonso, with the team focused on improving and innovating every aspect of the car as they look to further their partnership with Honda.

Testing re-cap

After months without F1, teams finally arrived at Circuit de Catalunya for the first of two testing sessions – the first running from 22nd – 25th February. Testing is a fascinating time of the season, as there are very few obvious clues to where teams truly stand performance-wise. Cars can run with any amount of fuel and any tires they wish, making for a game of almost psychological warfare, where success is more often judged by a driver’s expression in interviews or trackside reports on car handling rather than concrete times. Here are the main talking points from the week:

Day 1

Keen to make a big impression, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari were fastest on the first day with a time set on the medium compound Pirellis. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes clocked the most laps, with the German Manufacturer seemingly focusing on long runs and reliability. It was a positive first day for Mclaren too, who achieved 84 laps — five more than they managed over all four days of testing in Jerez last year.

After a good start for Haas, their day was eventually compromised by a front-wing failure for Romain Grosjean.

Day 2

The second day of testing saw Sebastian Vettel try out every tire compound but the hards, once again setting the fastest overall lap with the new ultra-soft tire compound. He also completed nearly double the laps of his first day tally. Eight teams in total managed to complete over 100 laps, but Jolyon Palmer and Max Verstappen interrupted the running as they both created red flags.

Day 3

Nico Hulkenberg and Force India set the fastest time on the third day, with a time set on the soft tires just three tenths shy of Vettel’s fastest time on the ultra-softs from day two. Haas impressed once again by finishing the day second in the standings, whilst Mercedes split driver-duties between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg due to their unprecedented mileage, and Mclaren’s day ended early with a small fire caused by a hydraulic leak.

Day 4

Mercedes debuted their highly-anticipated new nose design on day four which some commented bore resemblance to a shark’s head. Mclaren suffered a coolant leak in the morning which unfortunately meant that Fernando Alonso only completed three laps throughout the day. Rio Haryanto suffered a crash which caused a red flag, and Toro Rosso, Sauber and Renault each had solid productive days.

Image courtesy of Autosport.

Where does it stand?

As mentioned previously, it is impossible to firmly predict the pecking order at this early stage of the season. It is clear to see that Mercedes has displayed some impressive reliability, but there are some exciting technical developments on the Ferrari and Mclaren cars, along with some great times from Force India and Haas. With some new changes to the qualifying format and upgrades from a wide range of teams, could we see some more close racing this year?

The future of F1 is definitely looking interesting. With new regulations approved for 2017 to make the cars wider and faster, lap times will be lower and racing will be even more exciting. Also coming hand in hand with the increase in speed is an increase in safety. Driver head protection will be another key factor coming into play next season, with the ‘halo’ design seeming most favourable at the moment. The cars will certainly look different. If everyone at epm continues to work as hard as they have in preparation for Barcelona testing this year, then I think the company has a strong future ahead of it in the motorsport industry.Jack, Year in industry placement.
Featured image courtesy of F1hub.net

Advanced composites in 2016

The new year is now well upon us, and with many predicting the rise of digitally-integrated cars, virtual & augmented reality and the possibilities of wearable technology, we thought we would ask some of our staff to weigh-in with their predictions for our industry, and epm: technology itself, in 2016.

Philip Walker – Lead EngineerI think carbon fibre will move further into industries which traditionally have relied on steel, such as agriculture and forestry. Last year Stihl produced a feasibility study on the use of composites in chainsaws, and John Deere launched a partnership to make sprayer booms with a carbon fibre yacht mast company. This year we will hopefully see more development in these sectors due to the raised profile of carbon fibre and the increase of companies offering RTM and press tooling. The affordability of components to manufacturers and customers will also offer a more attractive product.On a recent visit to Nottingham University, we learnt that they are developing chop strand carbon fibre for press tools and assessing how it flows in moulds. I hope to see this developed further in 2016.

Video courtesy of Stihl

Daniel Poole – Project Engineer

2016 will see growth in the composites industry as the demand increases for higher strength-to-weight ratio parts. Today, we use Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software during the design of a performance composite part. It allows us to efficiently optimise and validate each design step using fast-solving, CAD-integrated simulations to ensure quality, performance and factor of safety (FoS) is achieved. This means we cut out the need for costly prototypes, unnecessary plies in the layup and even optimise material choice. We are able to produce complex composite assemblies that are at the cutting edge of innovation and serve a real purpose for their intended design.

A member of team epm: technology hard at work in our factory.

George Wright – Undergraduate Year in Industry

Over the past few years, the technology used to create 3D-woven composites has improved dramatically, leading to heavy investment from the aerospace industry.

The global push for eco-efficiency is also spreading throughout the industry, with manufacturers beginning to use natural fibres in response. This has sparked increased research into green manufacturing technologies.

With regards to epm: technology in 2016, I foresee a wealth of new opportunities within F1, Formula E and Le Mans due to new teams, regulations and the superb reputation of our world-class team here.

Featured image courtesy of NASA.