Reducing Unsprung Weight And Improving Suspension Performance

Warning: Weight plays a crucial role in how your car will perform against the clock. 

The task for this project was to build a circuit that can measure strain quantitatively on the suspension of the car while it is running using Micro-Measurements® strain gage sensors. This data will allow the team to determine where on the suspension they can shave as much semi-sprung (hybrid) mass from the vehicle, in turn improving vehicle dynamics.

The biggest goal every year for USC Racing is to reduce weight without compromising structural rigidity and integrity. Downsizing suspension components such as A-arms and pushrods reduces unsprung mass, which in turn significantly improves performance.  The importance of unsprung weight (unsprung weight or unsprung mass is the weight that is not supported by the suspension of the automobile) is what it can tell us about suspension’s ability to keep the tires against the road.

The team needed a way to measure strain and load distributions in order to safely downsize the suspension components. Knowing the load on each individual component of the suspension will give a major advantage when they compete.

“With Micro-Measurements® tee-rosette strain gages, we were able to determine that the stress on suspension components of our design is well below the yield strength threshold, thus allowing data to validate the hypothesis to reduce the size of suspension members.”

University of Southern California, USC Racing, Formula SAE (Case Study)

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Yuval Hernik

StrainBlog Editor in Chief