'AlphaCAM' helps F1 parts turnaround at Jordan

UK manufacturing software Licom Systems in Coventry has published a case study on the use of its 'AlphaCAM' tool by F1 constructor Jordan Grand Prix, to assist in producing racecar components under intense time pressures caused by a typical mid-season turnaround of eight days in the team's factory at Silverstone

'AlphaCAM' helps F1 parts turnaround at Jordan

Jordan's Trevor LeCoche commented: "We subcontract out a lot of our component work but, while our planning, production and quality assurance departments ensure that best practices are carried out at each of the companies we use, the design criteria originate from here. Designers today must be more conversant with what the modern machine tool can do. Some of the parts used today simply couldn't have been made a few years ago but, with surfacing technology as advanced as it is, the options are now greater.

"Each CAD design, regardless of its destination, originates in 3D on the SRDC 'Ideas' platform and, until 1999, we also used it here in the CAM office. However, we found that we had very little cause for 3D work and it didn't lend itself to the majority of work we were doing. As a result, we decided to purchase a system that had a shop-floor programming facility.

"Ease of use sold me on Licom's 'AlphaCAM' system. The last thing we want when we need a last-minute component modification is to have to spend hours on an Einstein-like CAM program. The key factor is that we must be able to react quickly to any given situation.

"We installed 2D and 2.5D systems running on Hewlett Packards here in the machine shop for profiling work on a range of lathes and a Bridgeport VMC 560 mill. If we need to do any 3D surfacing work, we use 'Ideas'. The two are very compatible. Typically, we're called on to do jigs, rear wing endplates, 'first offs' and modifications required on the car.

"We added a another seat in our composites department, where everything is taken straight from the digitiser. We're simply cutting 2D profiles on a Zund cutter and using 'AlphaCAM' for its nesting capabilities.

"The growth of an F1 team is not only dependent on sponsors and likewise, but also the size and capabilities of its machine shop. To that end, I hope we can expand our operation in the future and bring certain aspects of the subcontract work in-house."

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