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Carbon-fiber bobsled may be worth its weight in Olympics gold

The U.S. team hasn't struck gold in the Olympics two-man bobsleigh event since 1936, but it might this year. If it does, the athletes will share some of the credit with Michael Scully, Creative Director at BMW DesignworksUSA (Newbury Park, CA), and a cadre of BMW engineers in Germany who designed the ultimate sledding machine.

Norbert Sparrow

February 8, 2014

1 Min Read
Carbon-fiber bobsled may be worth its weight in Olympics gold

The U.S. team hasn't struck gold in the Olympics two-man bobsleigh event since 1936, but it might this year. If it does, the athletes will share some of the credit with Michael Scully, Creative Director at BMW DesignworksUSA (Newbury Park, CA), and a cadre of BMW engineers in Germany who designed the ultimate sledding machine.

Using computational fluid dynamics and other techniques typically used by automotive engineers to streamline design, a bobsled emerged with unique shape and weight characteristics that stayed within the strict guidelines of the international bobsled federation. Lighweighting, in the form of BMW's carbon-fiber laminating process, was brought to the mix, resulting in a light, rigid, and impact-resistant shell.

bobsled-bmw-600.jpg

"Carbon fiber is something that we really did put a lot of emphasis on," Scully told Popular Mechanics. "By using high-pressure and high heat-curing processes, the result is a sled with a denser and more robust laminate, eliminating excess voids within the material."

Both U.S. men's and women's teams have been putting the bobsled through its paces since March 2012, prompting numerous design iterations along the way. Since then, they have medaled at a World Cup race in Calgary, and swept the podium at separate events in December, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The bobsledders will begin their chase for the gold on Feb. 16 in Sochi, Russia.

Norbert Sparrow

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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