Revised Indy aeroscreen on track to debut in 2024

Revised Indy aeroscreen on track to debut in 2024

The NTT IndyCar Series and its partners Dallara, Pankl and PPG are making steady progress with the second-generation aeroscreen set to debut in competition next year.

Lighter than the first-generation safety system introduced in 2020, the joint efforts of the four parties have resulted in an “Aeroscreen 2.0” with a new titanium frame that takes advantage of the latest additive manufacturing to save weight on the halo being mounted on top of the Dallara DW12 cockpits.

“We took the original frame and Pankl used something called ‘topology optimization’ to reduce weight in areas where stress is lower,” IndyCar’s Tino Belli told RACER. “It is of course 3D printed, because there are many hollow structures in the top frame. If you were doing subtractive manufacturing, CNC machining, you couldn’t get in there and take all the material out.

With three seasons of impact data collected to draw from, IndyCar’s partners and the series’ engineering group have done studies to find areas where the original aeroscreen is too strong, and with those lessons in place after the selected in-race impacts the frame has received, the weight in those areas has been lightened on Aeroscreen 2.0.

“By calculation, it should be 6.8 pounds lighter,” Belli said. “We are testing it in Cranfield in the UK [before the end of the month]. That’s the top frame. The lightweight screen isn’t that far along in the process; we plan to start production hopefully in mid-August. So with one of these components, their difficulty can’t make five a week or anything like that. Most of them are about five to eight a month.

“We want to have 27 ready for the first test of next year and then we can fill the extra stock so that we have a total of 66 ready for Indy.”

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PPG’s laminated polycarbonate screen will also undergo a number of changes. While the second-generation Pankl frame will be used at all rounds, the series plans to implement separate road/street and oval screens, adopting the current 9.6-millimeter-thick screen for all ovals.

The second-generation aeroscreen will include driver cooling improvements. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

When IndyCar goes to road racing, a new, thinner screen will be used that no longer has a heating element between the layers. For the sake of improved driver cooling, the final version of the new road racing screen will likely have a pair of rectangular openings cut along the top where the sunshade strip currently resides.

Channels are located at the back of the vents that capture the oncoming air and direct it down to the driver.

“So the original thought was just to replace the 9.6-thick polycarbonate with a six-millimeter-thick screen, and then we looked at the ballistics testing that we’ve been doing and the maintenance side of the screen since it’s been in use and we’ve actually demolished very few of them,” Belli said. “The 2.0 screen will be lighter and this channel will wrap around the titanium frame. The sunbands will go down a little bit lower and this channel will wrap under the titanium and then there will be being a piece that extends and rotates 90 degrees and pumps air down into the cockpit.

The new frame accepts first and second generation screens, making switching between road/street racing and ovals a breeze.

“We’re aiming for a total weight reduction of 11.2 pounds and trying to make it close to 12,” Belli added. “We’re probably going to mandate that ductwork, and if we do, we’ll probably no longer need the topside ductwork that we’re now mandating when the ambient temperature reaches a certain threshold.”

Story originally appeared on Racer

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