The cars running at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend as part of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES are going to look different from what you may be familiar with because the vehicles will all be equipped with what is called the “Aeroscreen.”
Think of it as a wrap-around windshield.
The system was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and is a safety technology that is engineered to reduce the risk of drivers being impacted by flying debris or other objects.
The Aeroscreen is produced with a polycarbonate laminate from PPG and a titanium frame produced by Pankl.
The polycarbonate windscreen has an interior anti-reflective coating, an anti-fogging device based on an integral heating element, and as many as eight exterior tear-offs that can be removed during pit stops.
The windscreen weighs 17.3 pounds. It can withstand being hit by a two-pound object hitting it at 220 mph.
As for the titanium frame, it weighs 27.8 pounds. It is certainly sturdy, being able to withstand 34,000 pounds of force.
The entire assembly can be installed or removed from a vehicle in less than 15 minutes.
As Jay Frye, INDYCAR president puts it, “The Aeroscreen is an industry-changing, total driver safety solution.”
And it makes the cars look cool, too.
This is a 1979 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the first year the model appeared with its Schwarzeneggerian robustness, which happens to be incased in a block of amber-colored resin: Unlike the insects that are sometimes found encased in actual amber, objects that you can hold in your hand, this object measures 5.50 meters long, 2.55 meters wide and 3.10 meters high.
Remember those Saturn commercials showing shopping carts bouncing harmlessly off of plastic body panels? Good idea, right? But apparently the approach never really caught on. Now the question is: will it ever?
Several plastic makers are now producing components and subsystems once considered the sole domain of steel and-yes-even aluminum. Thermoplastic can mean up to a 30 to 40% weight reduction over equivalent metal components in many under hood applications, but cost reductions have gained the most attention. That's right: plastic components being cost competitive with metal.