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    Lightweight and energy absorbing - Aluminium Honeycomb

    aluminium honeycomb project

    University of Birmingham Formula Student Race Car

    One of the principle uses of honeycomb materials is to absorb energy in impacts. Aluminium honeycomb is used, for example, as an integral part of the crash testing carried out on all new cars in the Euro NCAP and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) programmes.

    Honeycomb's low mass to volume ratio and high energy-absorption to mass ratio also mean it can be used as part of the vehicle itself, and this year Goodfellow was pleased to supply the aluminium honeycomb used in the nose structure of the University of Birmingham’s Formula Student race car, which successfully competed at the Silverstone Circuit between the 3rd and the 7th July 2013.

    Formula Student is an international student engineering competition held annually in the UK, with Class 1 cars competing to similar rules as those used in Formula SAE in the USA. Student teams from around the world design, build, test, and race a small-scale formula style racing car. The cars are judged on a number of criteria including speed, endurance and crashworthiness.

    The weight of the average Class 1 car is usually less than 230kg in race trim, and since 2009 fuel economy is also used to calculate the overall score. This encourages the use of smaller engines, and the adoption of innovative weight-saving strategies to increase fuel economy, such as the use of aluminium honeycomb and other lightweight or composite materials.

    The honeycomb supplied by Goodfellow allowed the team to achieve more than a 70% weight reduction over the crash structure used in their 2012 car. For a video of Goodfellow’s aluminium honeycomb being tested on a crash rig at the Transport Research Laboratory, please click here.

    Despite at one point setting the fastest lap time, a steering rack malfunction meant that the team did not finish as highly as had been hoped in the endurance race, and were not placed in the fuel efficiency scoring.

    Aluminium is only one of the low density materials available as honeycomb from the Goodfellow catalogue. We also stock polyaramid and polypropylene honeycomb, as well as alumina, aluminium, carbon, copper, nickel, silicon carbide, stainless steel and zinc foams. Our range of composite materials includes carbon, glass, polyaramid, polyethylene and polypropylene fibres in a variety of matrices.

    For more information about Goodfellow’s range of lightweight materials, please contact us on 0800 731 4653 (UK) or +44 1480 424800 or via e-mail at info@goodfellow.com.

    Formula Student 2013 Class 1 Results


    (out of 98 entrants)




    ETH Zurich

    Business Presentation


    University of Basque Country

    Cost and Sustainability


    University of Strathclyde



    ETH Zurich



    University of Stuttgart (Team E)

    Skid Pan


    University of Stuttgart (Team C)



    Delft University of Technology


    Not Placed

    UAS Zwichau



    ETH Zurich

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