The following is an excerpt.

Last May, Audi announced that they wanted two SIMLab master’s students to work on the Q7 rims. Eirik Kittilsen and Emil Swanberg reacted instantly.

Eirik Kittilsen, left, and Emil Swanberg have seven Audi Q7 rims like this at their disposal. Photo: Albert H. Collett.
Eirik Kittilsen, left, and Emil Swanberg have seven Audi Q7 rims like this at their disposal. Photo: Albert H. Collett.

Both were in sunny California when Professor Arild Holm Clausen presented the challenge. Clausen did so at SIMLab’s annual presentation for potential project and master’s students in May.

“We figured that many of our fellow students would jump at the opportunity and feared the competition. As it is, we do not know how many others applied. The important thing is that we got the assignment,” they say, visibly content.


Stricter demands

The need for diving deeper into the properties of rims has to do with demands from USA’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS. They are concerned about small overlap crashes, where a vehicle hits or is hit outside the crash box area. Specific tests are designed for the purpose. The idea is that rims should be able to play a more important role in absorbing energy than has been the case traditionally.


Common path

During their ten-month exchange stay at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Kittilsen and Swanberg shared a room. Ever since they joined NTNU four and a half years ago, they have chosen the same topics.

“Why did you choose SIMLab for your project and master’s work?”

“We really didn’t know very much about it. The word “Advanced” in Centre for Advanced Structural Analysis was attractive in itself. We also liked the mixture between practical work in the lab and numerical analysis.


Significant variations

The two have seven Q7 rims at their disposal for the task ahead. They have already destroyed the first one according to plan.

“We have cut out samples that we will use for tensile tests. We will look at the material properties of both the rim bed and spokes. We know from earlier research at SIMLab that properties of rims may vary significantly, because the casting process leads to randomly distributed pores throughout the rim. These imperfections make for high statistical variance in strength,” Kittilsen and Swanberg explain.

The destiny of the remaining six rims depends on the result of the first tests. So, if aluminium rims have feelings, they are probably quite nervous right now….