The "Grand Prix of Melaten" – Rubber technology on the home stretch

Innovative exercise format for the rubber technology course: At IKV, students produced tyres for radio-controlled cars, also known as RC cars – the highlight of the practice-oriented exercise was the contest of the "Grand Prix of Melaten", where the suitability of the tyres was tested in competition.

The tyres in the practical test at the "Grand Prix of Melaten" | Photo: IKV

Exercise participants and those responsible for the exercise (3rd from left: Dr.-Ing. Martin Facklam, 5th from left: Fabian Fey, M.Sc.) | Photo: IKV

The declared aim of the Plastics Technology course is to teach students how to make targeted use of the special properties of plastics in order to manufacture economical, resource-saving and innovative products. And what is the best way to deepen theoretical knowledge? Through application! A little competition and a playful approach can't hurt as an incentive. That's what those responsible for the teaching in the subject Rubber Technology at IKV thought: together with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Limper, Senior Scientific Adviser Rubber Technology, the research assistants Fabian Fey, M.Sc. (Rubber Extrusion), Sebastian Kammer, M.Eng. (Rubber Extrusion), Melanie Kostka, M.Sc. (Rubber Processing) and Clemens Wiesel, M.Sc. (Elastomer Injection Moulding) developed a new exercise concept for the summer semester 2021. The task for the students was: Find the optimal recipe and the best process parameters for the rubber tyres of a radio-controlled car.

The Challenge: Optimal recipe and production for the tyre of an RC car

How do the formulation and production of rubber compounds affect the processability and the resulting performance characteristics? That was the question underlying the challenge. In small groups competing with each other, the students independently developed the formulations for manufacturing the tyres and worked out the process parameters of the manufacturing and processing methods. The evaluation of the compound quality was based on 18 different criteria (including Mooney viscosity, dynamic-mechanical analysis, extrudability, shrinkage, surface quality). The final race for the "Grand Prix of Melaten" was both an ordeal and the highlight of the course. First place went to the team whose compound "always stayed on the ground" even under the demanding conditions of the rainy day.

Thanks to the sponsors

As in real motor sport, the implementation of the exercise concept would not have been possible without generous sponsors: We would like to thank the Deutsche Kautschuk-Gesellschaft e.V. for their financial support in the purchase of the remote-controlled vehicles, the extrusion and pressing tools as well as the rims. We would like to thank ARLANXEO Deutschland GmbH for providing the rubber. Carbon black from Cabot GmbH was used. The plasticiser used was provided by the H&R Group. The rubber compounds were cross-linked with cross-linking chemicals from LANXESS Deutschland GmbH/BU Rhein Chemie. The adhesion promoter was provided to IKV by HUEHOCO GmbH. The "Grand Prix of Melaten" took place on the test track of the Institute for Automotive Engineering of RWTH Aachen University. Our thanks go to all the partners mentioned.