Original article published in Engineering Materials. Used here with permission.
Article by Justin Cunningham
Composite materials are used in arguably the most exciting engineering projects on the planet, from Formula One cars to fighter jets to... sleds.
Composite materials enable strength to weight ratios that have become inextricably linked to performance. The trouble is though, when you are tasked with finding out and reporting on these things, it's rare for companies, or people, to actually talk about them.
Time and time again I've heard people in the composites world say to me: 'we've got such a brilliant project going on at the moment... Oh, but we can't talk about it'. It's an understandable annoyance, put it that way.
While it's fantastic that so many amazing projects are taking place here in the UK that use advanced materials, it's a frustration that nobody can talk about them publically. But, as it turns out, this is as much of a gripe for the companies involved as it is for journalists.
"Normally, what we do is very secretive and we can't ever shout about it," says Graham Mulholland, managing director of Derby based composite specialist, EPM Technology. "We can't take a Formula One car, point to a part and tell people this is what we do. It's way too sensitive."
So when an opportunity to show off its skill comes along, EPM is definitely up for it. This was the case when the company received a phone call from TV producers asking if they would build the world's fastest sled, to be ridden in a world record speed attempt. While the seeming randomness of the request might have taken a few back, Mulholland jumped at the opportunity, and for good reason.
"Fundamentally, we need people to get excited about engineering," he says. "This kind of project dovetails in nicely with what we are doing in terms of promoting the skills that industry is crying out for.
"It helps make engineering trendy to the next generation, and hopefully will get undergraduates at university thinking that they want to come and work for EPM Technology."
The sled is a one off, streamlined, engineering marvel that was piloted by none other than speed junkie Guy Martin. The record in question was for the fastest gravity powered sled and the attempt would make up part of a TV series for Channel 4 called Guy Martin's Speed.
For the full article head over to Engineering Materials.