Cranfield’s Lightweight Structures Laboratories comprise composites manufacturing, polymer and ceramics processing, and an extended motorsport research area. Facilities dedicated to impact testing have been enhanced with the installation of a new impact sled which supports the structural integrity testing of Formula 1 cars. The laboratories also feature rigs for occupant safety and material testing.
Cranfield University and the Cranfield Impact Centre have an international reputation for work in relation to motorsport impact and safety. The new facilities have been funded by the University with Government and UK sponsorship. This will significantly enhance research capability in developing lightweight structures that are safer and more reliable, not only for motorsport, but also general automotive, aerospace and even marine.
Cranfield is well respected by the sector for its testing and research work in the motorsport field, and its MSc in Motorsport Engineering and Management. The Cranfield Impact Centre is approved by the FIA for testing and is used by the majority of Formula 1 teams and leading motorsport vehicle constructors.
Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, who officially opened the new laboratories, said, “Throughout my career, I have dedicated myself to the cause of safety in motorsport. Today’s safety standards have evolved because of the work carried out by organisations such as Cranfield. The Cranfield Impact Centre, here at the university, has been at the forefront of impact testing and the new facilities reinforce the centre’s position as the leading testing facility for the motorsport community.
“The combination of a dedicated team and first class facilities, plus an understanding of the top team’s requirements, reinforce this. And very importantly, the impact centre is integrated into a wider facility that embraces structural integrity, composites material research, and education programmes, through which Cranfield is developing the next generation of engineers.”
Professor Tony Pickett, Chair in Automotive Materials at Cranfield, said, “Our extended research capabilities and new facilities add significant value to Cranfield’s existing work in the world of motorsport. The development opens a wealth of new opportunities for our students. I am very proud of our outstanding new facilities. It is highly appropriate that former F1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who is a fantastic supporter of Cranfield, is able to perform the opening ceremony.”