Want to go racing? Greaves 3D and igus® bring racing to students

By Erin Kemal

I had the pleasure of helping host an event recently where igus®, Greaves 3D Engineering and the University of Northampton came together to introduce the new racing simulator. This has been developed by Greaves 3D Engineering and features approx 45 igus® components from; bearings, linear rails, drives to various types of e-chains®. These racing simulators are being used as part of the esports BSc degree course at The University of Northampton.

igus® has worked with Greaves 3D Engineering on this specific project for about two years and provided all the bearings and e-chains® at special prices to help with the project due to the fact it was being developed for the University.

Who are Greaves 3D engineering?

Greaves 3D Engineering are a Peterborough-based company, one of the UK’s few race simulator manufacturers. They have partnered with igus® in the past on other projects and working alongside the University of Northampton, they are able to give students on its esports BSc (Hons) degree use of these simulator. Students learn aspects of digital gaming development including user experience, marketing, broadcasting, media and esports coaching. The Greaves simulator is the perfect advanced hardware to enrich the course.

Racing simulator

Driving simulators typically provide interactive movement in three axes to simulate the car’s movement. This particular simulator doesn’t do that – it has three fully linked and adjustable screens that provide the sense of movement but the real heart of the simulator is the feedback technology.

It pulls the driver into the race like they were actually there, using life-like feedback mechanisms in the wheel, pedals and seat to give the driver a “haptic-like” feel of the car and the track. The ultra-widescreen, triple monitor setup pulls forward to wrap the track around the driver’s field of vision. A functional, stripped down design, the simulator has been designed and built to give pure driving realism, more than appearance and branding. Greaves’ simulator really works, as serious drivers will attest.

Greaves 3D racing simulator with bearings and cable carriers from igus

Feedback devices all over the rig can simulate the seat and steering wheel position of every class of racing, from entry-level karting to Formula One, so the driving position and handling is matched identically to that race class. Lean the seat position right back and down and you’re in an F1 car. Go upright and bring the pedal box into range, it’s a Touring or rally car. Every element of the simulator can be adjusted, and highly responsive feedback is at the heart of the machine. Components like the steering wheel and the servo-motor fitted to it, which provides the feedback, are the best in class.

igus® motion plastics makes a winning team

To enable these multi-positional movements, Greaves turned to igus®. We have various parts across the simulator, plain bearings, drylin® W linear rails and energy chains. These all help provide the simulator with tiny, accurate and ultra-smooth movements. We are involved with almost every mechanism in the racing simulator and these igus® products helping with the rig’s movement: the electronic seat in front and aft movements, the seat pivot, and all the screen swivel and vertical movements, use igus® bearings and chains.

A fully adjustable pedal box, where the pedals give the driver feedback as well, is equipped with iglide® bearings. Heights are adjusted using drylin® W linear rails. We designed and built a special control box to control the seat movement that incorporates the igus® D1 stepper motor control.

All igus® bearings and chains are lubrication-free, dry running motion products, perfect for motorsport simulation. Racing is a high-end, sometimes luxury business and simulators are used at racetracks – drivers do not want oil and grease to spoil expensive race suits and boots.

Growing esport

The simulator is available to both buy and lease. Traditional customers include race teams and motorsport consultants, and now esport companies, software designers and universities add to a widening market.

The beauty of these Greaves 3D simulators are they are portable and modular. It can be unpacked and re-packed safely with minimal training and is designed to fold away and stow in a customized flight case with integrated ramp for transportation. The unit unpacks and folds out simply, to be reassembled and connected in minutes.

Race teams are using the Greaves simulator at live track events, as drivers can practice the course and fine-tune race settings digitally before heading out to the car for real. This can save teams costs in fuel and reduces risk of accident or damage in testing, and lets the drivers sharpen their skills while waiting for bad weather to clear.

Greaves 3D plans to continue promoting the rig to motorsport teams in the UK and abroad, while pushing on the fast-growing esports segment. The esports market has been growing for a number of years and Greaves 3D Engineering saw an opportunity for a more modular transportable solution to assist with the growing demands of this market.

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