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Delcam software leads to soapbox success

Using PowerMILL and PowerSHAPE speeded manufacturing
The finished soapbox ready to race

Delcam’s Power Solution CADCAM software was used by one of the leading entries at this summer’s Goodwood Festival of Speed ‘Soapbox Challenge’. Clearly, computer software was not needed in the days when soapbox racing involved little more than bolting a wooden box to a set of old pram wheels. However, today’s streamlined soapbox designs need to use modern materials and manufacturing techniques to achieve downhill speeds of up to 70 mph.

High-performance carbon-fibre reinforced materials are used for the bodies of the modern racer. Delcam's PowerSHAPE design software and the PowerMILL machining system were used in the production of the bodywork of one of the cars by West Midlands based patternmaker and toolmaker H. Eccles (Patternmakers) Ltd.

The company sponsored the entry from Bertrandt UK, which was taking part in the event for the first time. The company was a late entrant to the competition and had just nine weeks to move from innovative concept to high performance reality.

H Eccles’ contribution to the project involved the manufacture of the moulds for the three carbon fibre-reinforced panels making up the body shape of the soapbox. The moulds were designed with PowerSHAPE and CNC machined using programs created with PowerMILL.

Regardless of the late start to the project, H. Eccles was confident that it would be able to provide a quick enough turnaround of the moulds. With the help of the Delcam software, the work was completed in less than two weeks, despite the need to avoid any effect on other on-going projects. 5-axis and 3+2 machining strategies were used on the steep vertical walls to reduce machining times, with further time saved by running machines through the night and over the weekends.

As part of the project, minor design changes were required to meet moulding and specification requirements. These were carried out in-house, using PowerSHAPE, which resulted in time being saved by not having to go back to the original designers.

Commenting on the success of its involvement, Shayne Walker of H Eccles said, "The company was delighted to get involved in this project and to use our vast knowledge and experience. We feel that this has been an ideal showcase to demonstrate our skills and hope that it will lead to further involvement with projects in the racing car industry.”

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