Engineering & Manufacturing Process
Because we set out to offer the most cutting-edge product in driveshaft technology, every material used and every step performed in manufacturing a QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft has been chosen to bring you the highest-quality driveshaft possible. Watch our video and read below to learn about our manufacturing process.
QA1’s Advanced Materials Division designs and models each driveshaft in-house to meet very specific performance goals. Our engineers look at all aspects of the driveshaft to ensure that it all works together as a system. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is used to verify the strength, stiffness and other aspects are all within spec. They look at the thermal expansion, joint design, surface finish/roughness; all of these features affect the overall design and ultimately the cost. By having our engineering and manufacturing in-house, we have control over every step of the process.
In-House Filament Winding
By having control over the entire filament winding process in-house, we are able to wind the custom tubes to very tight specifications. We can control not only the number of layers, but also the angles of each layer, and what fiber and resin are applied on each layer. Instead of cutting a premade tube to length, we make each driveshaft specific to what it's being used for. This allows us to raise the standard by which all driveshafts are measured.
Wound with Exclusive 3M™ Matrix Resin
One of the other key ingredients in any composite material is the resin. We invested a great deal into developing a custom resin that is specifically designed for torsional or driveshaft applications. We worked very closely with 3M’s Aerospace and Transportation group to develop this QA1-exclusive 3M™ Matrix Resin that is used in all of our driveshafts. This resin is an unbelievably tough Nano silica matrix resin that has improved compressive strength, reduced water absorption, and better impact resistance.
Taping, Curing & Cutting
After the tube is wound, it’s taped to compact the resin into the fibers, which helps to provide uniform wall thickness and increased surface protection. It’s then moved into the oven for curing. Once it’s cured, the tape is removed and the tube is ready to be cut to the correct length.
After the tube is wound and cured, we continue to monitor the quality with our imaging techniques. We cut a small ring sample from every tube, polish it and verify the fiber to resin volume as well as the void content. We magnify a sample of the material by up to 1000 times to make sure that the quality of the tubing exceeds our standards. You definitely don’t want carbon fiber that looks like Swiss cheese.
Adhering Tube Yokes with 11 Step Bonding Procedure
To bond the tube yokes to the ends of the tube, our proprietary 11 step bonding procedure uses a high strength structural adhesive. This process was developed to make sure the entire driveshaft assembly works together and not as individual pieces, and it ensures a better balance and minimal material waste, all while providing increased assembly strength.
Thoroughly Tested Throughout Manufacturing
Once the tube yokes are on, we test the ultimate strength, torsional spring rate and fatigue life, in addition to doing a barrage of NVH checks. This testing not only ensures that the driveshaft meets the customer’s needs, it also allows us to ensure that we are continuing to grow and push the limits of future designs.
Once the U-joints are installed, the driveshaft is high speed balanced. The balance is very important to ensure that the driveshaft performs appropriately at speed and that it’s quiet.
For every driveshaft design, we validate our simulations with lab and track testing. This ensures that the driveshaft performs at or higher than expectations when subjected to all the variables found in real life. In addition to our own testing, we track test all new designs with some of the most respected racers in the industry. You can see their thoughts on our Racer & Driver Approved page.