What is the Street Shark?
A car? Would be obvious, but no, not quite. Also no new brand, no amphibious vehicle, none with fin on the roof or painted fins. But we are getting closer, because at least it has something to do with surfaces. The name is also justified, but this is not primarily about the look, but rather the feel. Or rather aerodynamics. And in this area carmakers and drivers are always looking for improvements.
Every day we get results from bionics research - technologies that have their role model in nature. From Velcro to suction cups to airplanes. In the case of the "Street Shark" served - the name betrays - now the shark as a role model. Not the teeth quickly associated with him, but his skin. Because sharks reduce the flow resistance in the water on the one hand by their extremely streamlined body and on the other by the structure of their dander. As a manufacturer of tools and production lines for the production of plastic components, including for the automotive industry, the FRIMO Group from Lotte has made use of this phenomenon and, together with its partner companies, developed a manufacturing process with which bionic vehicle surfaces can be mass-produced. There has even been a real shark model.
It was created by a cooperation firm a negative impression of the shark skin, which was used for a model and then for a special tool. By using a special varnish and a PU resin, the filigree structure of the sharkskin can now be applied to various vehicle components - this not only applies to applications for cars, but also to trains, planes or ships. Previously, this was only possible by applying a special film, now components can be made directly and tool falling, ie without further post-processing with the shark skin structure. We talked to Mr. Stelzl, Head of Technology Development at FRIMO and "Street Shark" expert, and summarized the peculiarity of the manufacturing process and material used:
"Compared to traditional resin systems, the new PUR matrix material causes less corrosion and has a number of other positive attributes: its low viscosity (which is very thin, such as water), its ability to cure extremely quickly and with time (" Snap-Cure ") And the lower heat generation (exothermic), which makes a robust process with standard equipment possible. The intelligent sandwich construction reduces weight but at the same time increases the rigidity of the component. Due to the lower closing forces can be used, inter alia, with ceramic tools with which detailed images of structures - such. For example, the sharkskin tool can be depicted as falling. By using renewable or recycled materials, the use of expensive carbon fibers can be significantly reduced - the savings amount to about 50-60%. "
In addition to the falling material costs, another positive result is of course the significant weight reduction - and the associated lower fuel consumption. And how does it look now? Let's take a look at the prototypes:
The Street Shark 1.0 is a modified BMW Z4 with bonnet and hardtop, both with the new sharkskin surface. The main argument of this technique - the reduced flow resistance - was tested in an independent wind tunnel. In addition, aspects such as susceptibility to fouling, abrasion resistance, car wash behavior and much more are also being investigated. In the further developed versions 2.0 (an Alzen Porsche Mission 400) and 3.0 (again on the basis of a modified BMW Z4) the sharkskin structure was increased again and thereby further improvements, among other things the cw value important for the flow resistance, are achieved.
For the cooperation project "Street Shark", the FRIMO Group 2014 was awarded the JEC Innovation Award in Atlanta. Even at the SPE Awards known as the "Plastic Oscars", in which FRIMO had already been placed on 22, 2015 received two further awards at the beginning of July - the Innovation Award for Body Interior (as partner of RÜHL PUROMER) and in the field Body Exterior itself as a tool, machine and parts manufacturer. The latter were for the already mentioned components bonnet and hardtop with sharkskin surface, which score in terms of lightweight and aerodynamics. In the interior, on the other hand, the self-healing properties of the material used in interior trim are the real innovation. In a next step, this self-healing effect should also be implemented for the outer area, thus achieving a symbiosis of interior and exterior with regard to "natural" sportiness and dynamics should be - the Street Shark 4.0.
Overall, therefore, a promising technology that is understandably already met with great interest in the field of vehicle tuning - it will be interesting to see when it is used for the first time in motorsport.