Delcam's PowerMILL chosen for A1Grand Prix engine manufacture by Zytek Delcam's PowerMILL CAM system has been chosen by Zytek Engineering, one of the world's leading specialists in automotive control systems, race engine design and development,...
Delcam's PowerMILL chosen for A1Grand Prix engine manufacture by Zytek
Delcam's PowerMILL CAM system has been chosen by Zytek Engineering, one of the world's leading specialists in automotive control systems, race engine design and development, powertrain development and hybrid-electric vehicles, for the manufacture of all engines for the new A1 Grand Prix series. This addition to the facilities at its manufacturing centre in Repton Derbyshire follows the award of a three-year contract to Zytek to supply all the engines and electric gear-shift systems for the new racing series that is scheduled to start in September 2005.
Zytek is already well known for its contract, first awarded by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) in 1995, to supply and support all the engines used by Formula 3000 competitors worldwide. The success, in particular the reliability, of these engines has greatly reduced the cost of competing in this series and led to the renewal of the contract in 1998 and in 2001.
The A1 Grand Prix contract will demand a different approach to engine manufacture, according to Zytek Production Manager, Ian Edmonds. "With the current ZG348 sports car engines, there are regular design changes so each component is produced in small quantities or even as a one-off. For the new A1 Grand Prix series, each team must have exactly the same engine so we will have to produce at least 40 identical examples," he explained. "We realised that we would need to speed up our manufacturing techniques, especially the time we were taking to machine the engine ports, in order to produce these increased volumes."
"One change that we wanted to introduce was continuous five-axis machining, instead of using only positional five-axis techniques. We had these capabilities on some of our six Mori Seiki machines. However, our CAM system was unable to produce continuous five-axis toolpaths so we needed to look for an alternative."
Mr. Edmonds investigated a number of different systems but found that "None of the other software could do what PowerMILL could." He added, "PowerMILL is a genuine CAM system that is being developed constantly, not just an add- on to a CAD software package." The Delcam toolroom also impressed Mr. Edmonds. "You can see that the company is doing things for real, not just working in theory," he commented.
The biggest benefit expected from the addition of the Delcam software is in machining efficiency. "We are looking to reduce the time for finish machining of the engine ports by two-thirds," said Mr. Edmonds. "Our early results have shown that this is an achievable target."
"Even though we chose PowerMILL for its five-axis capabilities, we are also seeing some big improvements in the productivity of our three-axis machines," added Mr. Edmonds. "In fact, I may be forced to add a swarf conveyor to one of our three-axis machines because we are cutting metal so much more quickly."
Zytek was founded in 1982 to develop and manufacture innovative electronic technologies for the exacting world of motor racing. The company has been responsible for many race-winning innovations, including the first digital engine management system for Formula One. Although best known for its success on the racetrack, Zytek has also worked with some of the leading names in performance motoring, including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
In addition to its contribution to Formula 3000, the Zytek Engineering performance engines business has also provided championship winning BMW four cylinder engines to the BTCC series and six cylinder M5 engines to BMW of North America, winning the IMSA Supercar Championship in 1994 and 1995, as well as providing engines for the very successful Zytek 04S Le Mans Prototype Sportscar.