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Delcam’s CADCAM software used for record-breaking JCB Dieselmax


The record-breaking JCB Dieselmax

Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD software and PowerMILL CAM system were used by Visioneering to produce the majority of the components in the record-breaking JCB Dieselmax car.  Last August, the Dieselmax set a new speed record for diesel vehicles by reaching over 350 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.

Coventry-based Visioneering took a major role in the project, being responsible for the overall design and construction of virtually all the car apart from the powertrain.  The unique demands of the project meant that hardly any standard components could be used.  Even apparently routine items, such as hinges and catches, had to be machined from solid to ensure that they would give the high level of quality required.

Both the body and the underfloor were produced in carbon-fibre reinforced composites using tooling designed with PowerSHAPE and machined with PowerMILL.  Extremely sophisticated flow analysis (CFD) methods were used to optimise the shape of the body so it was essential that the tooling was able to reproduce this form exactly.

The most impressive components according to Operations Manager, Adrian Coppin, were the two engine covers.  These were machined from solid using programs generated in PowerMILL.  "For machining accuracy, these were the best parts we have ever produced,” he claimed.  "The surface finish that we achieved was remarkable – no hand finishing was required at all.”

Other challenging parts were the pedal box, which was machined from solid aluminium to match exactly the profile of driver, Wing Commander Andy Green, and the wishbones for the suspension system that were produced from solid titanium.

Visioneering has used Delcam software since it was first established nine years ago.  "At that time, most of the staff we were recruiting knew the Delcam systems,” explained Mr. Coppin.  "They seemed to be both powerful and user-friendly.”

Subsequently, the Delcam systems contributed to projects for customers including Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Honda.  "We use PowerSHAPE to adjust CAD models for manufacturing, for example to add run-off surfaces to component designs when making tooling.  The flexibility of its surface modelling makes it ideal for this work.”

"PowerMILL is simply a really good machining package,” he added.  "We would never consider changing it.  We have looked at other packages but they don’t offer the same benefits as PowerMILL.”

The software will be in greater use in the near future as the success of the Dieselmax project has proved a valuable marketing exercise for Visioneering.  The company is growing strongly following a management buy-out from its original American owners some eighteen months ago.

"The work we undertook on Dieselmax has proved that we are capable of taking on large projects and completing them successfully,” claimed Mr. Coppin.  "It also showed that we are capable of manufacturing complex parts in a wide variety of materials.  Both these factors have led to a different level of enquiry coming into our business.”

21 May 2007