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Lightweight and energy absorbing - Aluminum Honeycomb

aluminium honeycomb project

University of Birmingham Formula Student Race Car

One of the principle uses of honeycomb materials is to absorb energy in impacts. Aluminum honeycomb is used, for example, as an integral part of the crash testing carried out on all new cars in the Euro NCAP and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) programmes.

Honeycomb's low mass to volume ratio and high energy-absorption to mass ratio also mean it can be used as part of the vehicle itself, and this year Goodfellow was pleased to supply the aluminum honeycomb used in the nose structure of the University of Birmingham’s Formula Student race car, which successfully competed at the Silverstone Circuit between July 3-7, 2013.

Formula Student is an international student engineering competition held annually in the UK, with Class 1 cars competing to similar rules as those used in Formula SAE in the USA. Student teams from around the world design, build, test, and race a small-scale formula style racing car. The cars are judged on a number of criteria including speed, endurance and crashworthiness.

The weight of the average Class 1 car is usually less than 230kg in race trim, and since 2009 fuel economy is also used to calculate the overall score. This encourages the use of smaller engines, and the adoption of innovative weight-saving strategies to increase fuel economy, such as the use of aluminum honeycomb and other lightweight or composite materials.

The honeycomb supplied by Goodfellow allowed the team to achieve more than a 70% weight reduction over the crash structure used in their 2012 car. For a video of Goodfellow’s aluminum honeycomb being tested on a crash rig at the Transport Research Laboratory, please click here.

Despite at one point setting the fastest lap time, a steering rack malfunction meant that the team did not finish as highly as had been hoped in the endurance race, and were not placed in the fuel efficiency scoring.

Aluminum is only one of the low density materials available as honeycomb from the Goodfellow catalog. We also stock polyaramid and polypropylene honeycomb, as well as alumina, aluminum, carbon, copper, nickel, silicon carbide, stainless steel and zinc foams. Our range of composite materials includes carbon, glass, polyaramid, polyethylene and polypropylene fibres in a variety of matrices.

For more information about Goodfellow’s range of lightweight materials, please contact us on 1 800 821 8270 or via e-mail at

Formula Student 2013 Class 1 Results


(out of 98 entrants)




ETH Zurich

Business Presentation


University of Basque Country

Cost and Sustainability


University of Strathclyde



ETH Zurich



University of Stuttgart (Team E)

Skid Pan


University of Stuttgart (Team C)



Delft University of Technology


Not Placed

UAS Zwichau



ETH Zurich

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