Formaplex Gets the Bloodhound SSC up to World-Record Speed

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Advanced manufacturing company Formaplex has provided its specialist carbon composite machining services for the Bloodhound SSC, the British-built supersonic car that will attempt the world land speed record in 2013/14.

Rendered CAD image of BLOODHOUND SSC

BLOODHOUND SSC

The machining of a chassis is a high-risk business: a lot of time hard work and expense had gone into the programme before it reached this stage and even a small error on our part could have wrecked it.

Formaplex regularly rises to challenges when supplying pattern and tooling services to Formula 1, Le Mans and other motorsport teams, and it is renowned for its carbon composite machining, including composite chassis machining. But this chassis machining job was larger than anything it had ever attempted before and was one of its most challenging projects yet.

The Bloodhound SSC is the supersonic car that has been created by the Bloodhound Project to attempt a 1,000mph world land speed record on the Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa in 2013/14. World land speed record holder Andy Green will be behind the wheel.

“We have extensive experience in the machining of various composites structures, but the size of the Bloodhound SSC carbon chassis had more in common with the military work that we do for troop carriers than that for single-seater race cars”, explains Formaplex Manufacturing Manager Rob Carter.

“The inclusion of the air intake on top of the chassis meant that the obvious machining strategy would not have worked due to the overall height and hence our approach had to change Instead, the chassis was jigged and laid on its side, allowing our 5-axis machine to operate on the side of the chassis with access to both ends”, Carter adds.

The supersonic Bloodhound chassis was machined in several positions over 10 days using specialist tooling to cope with the aggressive nature of the carbon fiber composite. Watch the machining of the Bloodhound SSC chassis at Formaplex.

“The machining of a chassis is a high-risk business: a lot of time, hard work and expense had gone into the programme before it reached this stage and even a small error on our part could have wrecked it. Fortunately our highly skilled and experienced staff were able to take this project on with confidence”, comments Composites Director Jon Payne.

“Few people realise that for high-tolerance accuracy machining, simply moulding the features is not enough. As the composite cures, there is always some movement within the composite component. Experienced designers such as ours are aware of such issues and allow for extra sacrificial plies to be applied to the datum faces. We can then machine these faces and datumise the chassis, allowing all the holes and important faces to tie up as the designer intended”, explains Payne.

“We are very proud to be involved in such an exciting project that showcases to the world the high standards of engineering that makes this country great. If it ignites an interest in engineering, as it did for me with Thrust 2 some 25 years ago, then the project will be a complete success”, he adds.

For more information about Formaplex, visit http://www.formaplex.com.

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Jon Payne
Formaplex
+44 (0) 2392 499276
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