Thank You Rockwell Collins!

Rockwell Collins-Teklam manufactures aero-space grade honeycomb sandwich panels for aerospace interiors, spacecraft, marine, rail, and automotive applications. They were a major sponsor of Zephyr, and we are very grateful for their generosity. We used their phenolic-resin and honeycomb core panels in the majority of Zephyr’s interior stiffening bulkheads and ribs. These high-quality and machineable panels were also used to attach Zephyr’s carbon fiber shell to her aluminum chassis. Thank you Rockwell Collins for your invaluable support!

As discussed in our previous blog post, honeycomb sandwich panels offer great weight savings over solid panels of comparable flexural strength and stiffness. However, the strength of a sandwich panel, like that of most composites parts, depends on a solid bond between the different component layers. Rockwell Collins’ sandwich panels are bonded under high pressure to achieve superior and consistent lamination. In turn, this translates to stronger and more consistent bulkheads on Zephyr. Furthermore, Rockwell Collins is able to manufacture panels in very large sheets, allowing us to cut long ribs in a single continuous piece. These factors combine to make Rockwell Collins, Inc. a great choice for our honeycomb panels, and Zephyr benefited greatly from their sponsorship.

Rockwell Collins’ logo is featured on our website, and will be displayed on Zephyr as she races in this summer’s Formula Sun Grand Prix. We encourage you to visit their website at for more information on their wide range of products and capabilities.



Blog post updated on June 5th to reflect B/E Aerospace-Teklam’s acquisition by Rockwell Collins.


Thank You Hexcel!


Hexcel is an industry-leading manufacturer of composites materials, with products ranging from carbon fiber prepreg to honeycomb core and adhesives. We are very grateful for their sponsorship during Zephyr’s construction, and used their lightweight honeycomb core in both the exterior shell and interior stiffening panels. The aerospace-grade Nomex honeycomb was manufactured at Hexcel’s Casa Grande facility, and allowed us to strengthen our parts without adding unnecessary weight. In addition, Hexcel’s core was easy to work with in manufacturing, aiding our fabrication process. Thank you Hexcel for all your help!

The value of Hexcel’s sponsorship can be further demonstrated through a quick overview of composites sandwich panels. Sandwich panels comprise of a “core” material (Hexcel’s honeycomb core) sandwiched between two “facings” (carbon fiber in our case). While the facings provide tensile and compressive strength along the plane of the panel, the crush-resistant core stiffens the sandwich structure against out-of-plane bending. Since the honeycomb core is mostly hollow, very little weight is added. In this way, it acts much like an I-beam: the webbing in the middle adds stiffness and strength with very little increase in weight. The advantages can be substantial, as this table from Hexcel’s Sandwich Panel Fabrication Technology Datasheet demonstrates:

Demonstrates strength/stiffness benefits of using honeycomb core.

For this reason, we tried to incorporate Hexcel’s honeycomb core into the majority of our carbon fiber shell. Their core materials can be engineered to facilitate bending along a chosen axis, helping us lay core along the complex curves of the outer shell.

We proudly display Hexcel’s logo on our website, and look forward to racing with their logo at this summer’s Formula Grand Prix. We encourage you to visit their website at for more information on their cutting-edge products and facilities.


Thank You Patz Materials and Technologies!


Patz Materials and Technologies manufactures cutting-edge composite materials for a wide range of applications, and has been a generous sponsor of CalSol throughout Zephyr’s build cycle. Their carbon fiber prepreg was an essential part of Zephyr’s success and forms the structure of our lightweight aerodynamic shell. Their high-performance materials were a great improvement over our previous composite processes in both performance and ease of use, and we can’t thank them enough for their help! We look forward to continuing our partnership through Tachyon’s build cycle and beyond.

In addition to material support, Patz Materials and Technologies also gives us valuable advice in material selection and layup practices, and has offered to validate our layup samples with their ASTM-standard testing equipment. Finally, Patz Materials and Technologies led us on a tour of their manufacturing facilities in January. They showed us their impressive core and prepreg-manufacturing facilities, and taught us a lot about the manufacture and processing of these cutting-edge materials.

Patz_01_Uni_Spools     Patz_04_Uni_Done

Spools of carbon fiber being made into unidirectional prepreg



Patz_06_Weave_Done   Patz_08_Joseph

Finished roll of woven carbon fiber prepreg and Joseph Talosig, our wonderful guide


The Patz Materials and Technologies logo is proudly blazoned on Zephyr and our website, and we look forward to representing them on Tachyon as well. We encourage you to visit their website at for more information on the amazing work that they do.


…And We’re Back!


It’s been a while since we’ve posted on this blog, but let’s get things started again. A lot has happened in the past year: we’ve competed in the Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) and American Solar Challenge (ASC) 2016 with a 9th-place finish, and have also begun development of our 9th generation solar vehicle, Tachyon! We’d like to extend a huge thanks to our team members, sponsors, and supporters for making all of the progress in the past year possible.

Looking forward, we are now preparing to compete in FSGP 2017, which will be held from July 3-7 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas! We will be bringing our 8th generation vehicle, Zephyr, to compete in its final race.

See what we’re up to on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!