AUGUST 10, 2002
What will the new Ferrari V10 have in it?
Titanium has been used in racing since the 1970s for small light parts such as gear linkages. Teams then tried suspension components. The problem was that titanium is difficult to cast and to weld. Initial attempts led to welding failures but in the early 1990s John Barnard developed systems for creating such components in inert atmospheres. Other teams solved the same problem by machining parts from solid titanium but this was expensive and wasteful.
New advances in metal casting technology - particularly stereo-lithographic rapid prototyping - means that complex shapes can, for the first time, now be cast in titanium. The metal is five times more expensive than aluminum but is very stable at high temperatures and has been used in military and naval applications, specifically with the Trident and Seawolf nuclear submarines and the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 fighter plane.
Although the metal and the casting technology are both expensive, there are savings to be made as processing costs for machined titanium are high because of tooling costs. In this respect Minardi has led the way in recent years with its cast titanium gearbox.