Technology has proven to be the key to unlock better performance. As methods are tested and found to be beneficial, the supporters line up to take their programs to the next level. Advantage is the universal element sought by all racers.

Sometimes, the advantage can lie deep within the engine. Expensive exotic metals are one way to go about it, but there is a far more cost-effective way to get reliability and performance in some key engine parts.

Howards Racing Components has joined with GKN Sinter Metals to unveil a line of connecting rods for racers. These rods are manufactured in the precision powder-forged process. This allows the rods to be extremely durable for high-horsepower applications. In addition, the cost of the rods is going to be within the range of an average racer's budget.

The name "precision powder-forged connecting rod" has been shortened to "PPF con rod," which is the way it will be referred to from this point forward.

The goals of the PPF con rod were simple. The companies wanted to design a part that was stronger and lighter while keeping cost affordable. The combination of strength and light weight is a definite boost to the production of horsepower.

The technology is new to short-track racers. It has been used for high-performance applications for more than two decades. Auto-motive original equipment manufacturers have also used components using powder metal for nearly 15 years. There's a good chance your street vehicle contains some powdered metal components.

The Process

Just like most operations, the process begins with a need and then a plan to fulfill the need. Once there is an established plan, the part must be designed. In the case of the connecting rod, the designing phase utilized the concept of solid modeling. The solid modeling phase used a CAD (Computer Aided Design) system that insures design integrity. It allows for the accurate prediction of overall weight and center of gravity of the part. Once the manufacturer is satisfied, the file is transferred to FEM (Finite Element Modeling) analysis and used by a CAM system for prototype production.

In the case of this connecting rod, Howards and GKN worked together to determine the best piece. The companies reviewed current billet and conventional forge designs available to the racer. The finished design was machined from billet stock to serve as a proof for the concept. During the analysis of the Finite Element Modeling, the weight was further reduced, and stress areas were identified.