QA1’s New Carbon Driveshafts

It is hard to believe but carbon fiber dates back to the 1870s when Thomas Edison stumbled upon an early version of a carbon fiber filament in his light bulbs, but it would be almost a hundred years before it found its way into motorsports during the late 1960s/early 1970s. Now, nearly fifty years after its motorsport debut, carbon fiber use in the street and racecar market is as common as round tires thanks to the trickle-down effect. A component that was once accessible to the upper echelon racing ranks has eventually made its way down to the sportsman drag racing and street markets. The latest player to enter the carbon fiber component market is QA1 with REV™, a line of high-performance carbon fiber driveshafts.

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There are currently two versions, the large carries a 3.7-inch size tube diameter with a 1350 series U-joint and a rating of 2,000 hp and 1,500 lb/ft of torque. The smaller version is rated at 750 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque with a 3.2-inch diameter carbon fiber tube and a 1310 series U-joint, though larger 1330 and 1350 U-joints are available at an additional cost.

There are two styles of REV™ driveshafts and before we go through each of their specs, we must share some information on the manufacturing processes that the company has created in order to achieve a high-quality product and keeping costs very reasonable. The company handles the entire filament winding in-house in their Minnesota-facility in order to produce the correct torsional stiffness specifications. Using specialized equipment, QA1 engineers and its manufacturing group can build custom tube lengths, wall thickness, and pattern in order to produce carbon fiber driveshafts based on applications rather than a standard one-size fits all model.

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QA1 prides itself on several factors with the new REV™ line-up and it starts with the engineers who design the driveshafts for specific uses and to meet customer requirements.

The driveshafts carry a unique blue tint, which is caused by the use of 3M™ Matrix Resin, which uses spherical nano scale silica. That provides abrasion resistance and increases longevity, high compressive strength, and minimizes water absorption for increased torque capacity. The bonding process is a proprietary eleven step procedure that consists of an aerospace two-part epoxy adhesive for better balancing properties and minimal material waste. The universal joints are alloy with a high-torque capacity and are sealed for increased strength and zero maintenance. The yokes are CNC-built from 7075 forged aluminum and offered in several different styles.

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All carbon fiber construction is done in-house in QA1’s Minnesota facility where it can control the filament winding process. That ensures the REV™ driveshafts can be made in custom lengths, wall thickness and pattern, and built for specific applications.

There are two REV™ driveshafts currently on the market; the first one is rated to 750hp and 500 lb/ft of torque. The other ‘shaft carries a 2,000hp and 1,500 lb/ft of torque capacity. The difference lies in the details between the two shafts from overall diameter to the U-joint sizing. The larger capacity driveshaft features a 1350 series U-joint and a thicker diameter tube at 3.7-inches. The 750 hp/500 lb/ft rating driveshaft carries a 3.2-inch diameter and a 1310 series U-joint is standard but upgradable to a 1330 or 1350 series U-joint. Both are offered in varying lengths and slip yoke options to fit many different applications. Both driveshafts are harmonic testing to ensure it meets Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) requirements, precision balanced for smooth and vibration free service, and torsion tested. Each driveshaft testing data is logged and the ‘shafts are serialized.

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Quality control is a high priority for QA1 and throughout the driveshaft process there are testing procedures in place to ensure that commitment. The finished REV™ driveshafts are torsion tested, balanced, and serialized so they can be tracked. The materials are also put through a rigorous testing procedure including tension, compression, sheer, three-point bend, and surface roughness. The composites are also inspected, holding the material to the QA1 standards before it is even rolled out.

As for weight savings, according to QA1 in-house testing, they compared a steel driveshaft with a wall thickness of .083-inches and 15-pound overall weight to one of its REV™ carbon fiber driveshafts. In that comparison the REV™ driveshaft was less than half the weight at 6.5 pounds and featured a much thicker .110-inch tube wall. The thicker wall enabled the REV™ driveshaft to handle twice as much as torque as the steel driveshaft and thanks to being less than half the weight of the steel ‘shaft, REV™ will accelerate much quicker.

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QA1 engineers worked with several professional and grassroots race teams—including some NMRA racers—in product development to ensure the design and performance are up to snuff in the real world.

 

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