QA1 Hosts Open House & Cruise To Street Machine Nationals

We recently visited the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the Street Machine Nationals and covered that event in another story. One of the other highlights of our trip to Minnesota was visiting QA1’s facilities in nearby Lakeville, Minnesota, for the QA1 Open House on Friday. As the company’s mantra “goDRIVEit” states, the company not only held the QA1 open house, but attendees also had the opportunity to drive to the Street Machine Nationals as a group on Friday after the festivities concluded at QA1’s headquarters.

QA1 open house

Cars started filing in early, and by mid-morning, the lot in front of the building was full of every make and model of automobile. Over 150 cars lined up to be part of the QA1 cruise to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds that was scheduled at 10 O’clock.

Our Open House is all about connecting with enthusiasts and proudly demonstrating the manufacturing of QA1 suspensions right here in our community. – David Kass, QA1

Until then, attendees could enjoy complimentary beverages and doughnuts, and take one of the guided tours throughout QA1’s manufacturing facilities to get a first-hand glimpse of how the company produces a broad range of products. QA1 also handed out t-shirts to those in attendance.

A Tour Of The Facilities During The QA1 Open House

During the QA1 Open House, tours of the manufacturing facilities constantly weaved their way through the aisles of warehouse racking and displays that were created to highlight various processes and products. The tour began by explaining the scope of products offered and the various steps used to ensure quality throughout the process. It became obvious the number of products offered by QA1. There are a LOT!

QA1 open house

When you supply all the major parts warehouses as well as your retail customers, you need to keep enough products on hand to fulfill orders. QA1’s new building was designed to handle not only the manufacturing of products but also the warehousing needs of such a voluminous production.

Founded in 1993, QA1’s expansion over the years necessitated securing a larger facility. In 2020, the company moved into this state-of-the-art building that was designed and built to fulfill the needs of QA1’s production perfectly. The facility houses modern CNC machinery in conjunction with talented employees to create innovative, high-quality products for its customers.

QA1 open house

Our tour started with a sampling of products QA1 manufactures at the facility.

Our first stop on the tour highlighted QA1’s, five-axis CNC machining station. Our guide explained the products QA1 manufactures come in one door as raw products and exit the shipping dock, boxed and ready for installation on the enthusiast’s vehicle.

Raw material awaits the chance to become quality QA1 products. QA1's five-axis CNC machining creates many jewel-like components for assembly into QA1's finished product.

From there, we walked over to the CNC machines used to bend the sway bars offered by QA1. The automated, CNC process allows unprecedented consistency and we were amazed at how the bending of each curve was precisely handled by the machine.

All components that make up QA1’s tubular parts such as control arms or other suspension pieces are bent in a similar CNC-controlled manner, then sent to the welding area for assembly. Each component then has a designated fixture where it is clamped prior to welding by one of QA1’s automated welding machines. This ensures perfect welds each time and the fixture ensures the parts don’t move during the process.

Each part is secured in a fixture to ensure consistent geometry as engineered throughout the welding process. Once the machines have completed welding, each part is inspected and put on a rack in preparation for powder coating.

Once the run of components is complete, they are sent to the powder coating facility for a nice coat of protective color. They then return to the packaging area where each product’s box is weighed as it is assembled, ensuring that every part gets placed in the box, so you won’t be missing anything when you receive it.

QA1’s Carbon Fiber Driveshaft Manufacturing

One of the more interesting areas during QA1’s Open House tour was the carbon fiber driveshaft manufacturing area. Once, a super-exotic material only used for space missions, this carbon-based fiber is now becoming much more mainstream. As the name states, the carbon element is formed into a strand or fiber.

Carbon is woven into strands, which are then wrapped around a tube to create strong and lightweight QA1 driveshafts.

In the case of QA1 driveshafts, it is then wound onto a mandrel by machines. The strands are held together with a bonding agent and winding the strand at different angles on each path ensures rigidity while eliminating possible fracture points. QA1’s proprietary, 11-step bonding process holds the driveshaft’s yokes to the carbon fiber tube so tightly that when tested torsionally, the U-joint is actually the first failure point.

building a QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft

The process of laying the fibers in a particular pattern is what provides the strength, and in the case of QA1’s driveshafts, the strength can be increased or decreased based on how the fibers are wound over the mandrel.

Our tour concluded at the QA1 Research and Development area, where technicians create new products thanks to 3D imagery scanning, and fit the newly created products onto the vehicle. This is where the QA1 team can check fitment with the various other components of the vehicle and get each part installed for testing.

This is where all QA1 products begin and end their engineering. A 3D scan of the vehicle gives the engineers the under-car dimensions. Installing the product on the vehicle for testing gives real-world results.

Before the entire group headed out to the event at the fairgrounds, there was one last perk for those QA1 Open House attendees. There were goody bags waiting to go home with several lucky attendees.

QA1 open house

The group then headed out for the Nats and were treated to special gate entry upon arriving at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Check out QA1’s video below for more great views of the cars and enthusiasts in attendance at the recent QA1 Open House. Be sure to watch until the end. You’ll get a glimpse of just some of the fun folks had as they set out in their rides to make good on their commitment to “#goDRIVEit.”

Once on-site at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, QA1 hosted the autocross, which featured tech inspections and autocross sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We had a great time at the Nats and, despite several quick rain storms throughout the show, beginning the weekend at the QA1 manufacturing facilities started our entire time in Minnesota on a high note.

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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