New Racing-Spec Steel Formulations Show Promise for Street Cars
By KBB.com Editors on October 15, 2009 7:31 AMIn a neo-classic example of racing improving the breed, the latest FIA dictum mandating more durable gearboxes for Formula One cars could well bring about significant gains in the reliability and efficiency of transmissions -- and other steel components -- used on future passenger vehicles. Speaking at a seminar in Britain on performance-enhancing technologies for transmissions, Steve Vanes, chief metallurgist for industry leader, Xtrac, indicated that the reformulated ultra-high-strength steels his firm has developed in concert with long-time partner Corus Engineering Steels have extended the service life of highly stressed internal components on the newest strain of exotic F1 racing gearboxes by a factor of 7.5 times. According to Vanes, one of the key advances made by Xtrac comes from tempering these super steels at higher-than-normal temperatures. That more rigorous heat-treatment process, in turn, allows them to more effectively benefit from the subsequent application of various low-friction surface coatings and enhanced solid lubricants, both of which have a significant impact on their overall longevity. As for taking these advanced steel formulations to the street and beyond, Vanes also noted that: "The underlying principles and processes we've developed can be applied to the automotive mainstream and other transport sectors including aerospace and would help to improve the efficiency of transmissions generally."