Automotive damper and suspension specialist Thyssenkrupp Bilstein is expanding its service for car manufacturers, racing teams and tuning companies with the opening of a new site in Meuspath, next to the Nürburgring. The groundbreaking ceremony for the site was on 13 July 2021, and the company will use the site to develop its own products (including aftermarket parts) through further suspension analysis and development, with easy access to the legendary track (it is in the traffic circle at the centre of the Nürburgring industrial park). The site will also house a seven-post vertical dynamics test stand, the only one located directly at the Nürburgring, which allows engineers to simulate any race track.
The seven-post rig can be used to investigate the body behaviour of a wide range of vehicles. Four hydraulic rams simulate road excitations in the vertical direction, and acceleration sensors and spring-travel transducers on each wheel and on the chassis then measure the vehicle and wheel movements generated by the excitations of the hydraulic rams. In this way, an optimum spring-damper design can be determined. The three additional hydraulic rams make it possible to take an even closer look at the complex vehicle dynamics – and can even simulate the influences of aerodynamics on the suspension: They simulate not only downforce, but also the pitch and roll movements of the body.
The rig can also be used to simulate complete racetracks, enabling race teams to test track-specific suspension setups. Even driving behaviour on individual track sectors can be examined, and racing teams and manufacturers can gain a precise understanding of a suspension setup in a short time and work together to investigate and optimise handling at specific parameters and develop the optimum settings.
The location at Nürburgring was chosen as it is at the heart of performance development in the automotive industry. All leading car manufacturers and tuning companies test on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, while many automobile manufacturers also operate their own test centres in the industrial park directly on the Döttinger Höhe, and numerous international racing teams are also based there.
“Our credo has always been to be where we can support our partners. A test bench somewhere in the provinces was never an option for us,” stated Dr Peter Klaus Kirner, CEO at Thyssenkrupp Bilstein. “That’s why it was clear to us early on that there could only be one location for our seven-post vertical dynamics test bench: In the heart of motorsport – directly at the Nürburgring.”
Martin Malinowski, an engineer who has worked with vertical dynamics test rigs for around 15 years, has been placed in charge of operating the seven-post rig. “There are few engineers who have more experience with 7-post rigs than Martin,” stated Martin Flick, the company’s head of motorsport. 41-year-old Malinowski has worked for various seven-post vertical dynamics test rig operators for many years, and was jointly responsible for five world championship titles for a Formula 1 team in a similar role, as test & development engineer at Mercedes-AMG-Petronas.