Pushing back the frontiers

SEVERAL Formula 1 teams are believed to be experimenting with an exotic new lightweight metal-ceramic material called Boralyn. This is an aluminium-boron carbide metal matrix composite which was first produced in 1995 by research scientists at the Alyn Corporation in Irvine, California. This metal is lighter, stronger and stiffer than aluminium, but has none of the safety problems associated with beryllium alloys - which have been used in F1 in recent years. Boralyn can be welded and machined. It is also manufactured to different strengths and stiffnesses depending on what is needed.

Although Boralyn is four years old, the Alyn Corporation was only able to start manufacturing it on a commercial scale in the middle of 1997 when a factory was completed. It was not long before General Motors Corporation's Advanced Technology╩Vehicles Group decided to use the metal in its planned EV1 aluminium-intensive electric car program. Since then sales have rocketed as word about boralyn has leaked out into the automotive industry. In January Alyn established a Milan-based European distribution business in partnership with Arne Van Roon, who specializes in commercializing new technology.

The race is on to see who can produce the first Boralyn parts in Grand Prix racing...

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