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Lotus F1 Team host Agie Charmilles Technical Seminar to date

Lotus F1 Team host Agie Charmilles Technical Seminar to date

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 11 October 2012

Lotus F1 Team host Agie Charmilles’ most successful VIP Technical Seminar to date.

A range of advanced EDM and 5-axis machine tools installed at Lotus F1 Team’s design and manufacturing facility in Enstone made it the ideal venue for Agie Charmilles’ latest VIP Technical Seminar for customers and prospects.

Over fifty customers and prospects from around the UK attended Agie Charmilles’ recently held VIP Technical Seminar at Lotus F1 Team’s Technical Centre in Enstone, Oxfordshire.

The event, which took place on 4th October 2012, provided visitors with a unique opportunity to find out more about and indeed ‘get underneath the skin’ of a leading F1 Team, and to appreciate first-hand the technical, operational and logistical pressures and challenges faced by Lotus F1 Team’s 540 strong workforce in competing at the highest level of motorsport.

The daylong seminar also provided attendees with the opportunity to be ‘brought up to speed’ about the latest machine tool and advanced technology developments from GF AgieCharmilles and to see the range of GFAC EDM and Milling machines, including the six new HPM 450U 5-axis machines, installed in Lotus F1 Team’s machine shop.

Says Martin Spencer, Agie Charmilles’ Managing Director:

‘We have a long-standing Technical Partnership with Lotus F1 Team that stretches back over 15 years and, as part of the relationship that exists between both organisations, regularly take advantage of Lotus F1 Team’s excellent venue and superb corporate hospitality facilities to stage our VIP Technical Events.

‘This latest Seminar, which also included a comprehensive factory visit as well as a series of presentations, was all about technological innovation and the venue provided an ideal backdrop for us to present (and demonstrate) our latest EDM and Milling machine tool developments, and for VIP visitors to see our technologies in action.’

Setting the scene

The Seminar started with an introduction from Mr Luca Mazzocco (Lotus F1 Team Marketing) who provided an overview of Lotus F1 Team’s history from its Toleman Motorsport origins in the 80s, the first Formula One World Championships’ successes in 1994 (Drivers’) and 1995 (Drivers’ and Constructors’) through to its more recent success as the Renault F1 Team with the achievements of double World Championships won in 2005 and 2006.

The presentation then moved onto the recent restructuring of the Enstone outfit under the guidance of new owners Genii and the importance Technical Partnerships, like the one with GF AgieCharmilles, play in this context for the Lotus F1 Team. Mr Mazzocco explained: ‘Our partnership with GF AgieCharmilles goes back to 1997 – and in this period we have made significant investment in GFAC machine tools.

‘However, we not only rely on GF AgieCharmilles machine tools to make high-precision, complex F1 parts and components - we also depend  on their applications expertise and support, and their proven track record in delivering high-productivity and high-efficiency turnkey manufacturing solutions.’

Mr Mazzocco completed his introduction with a few F1 and Lotus F1 team-specific anecdotes that helped to provide a context for the fast-moving, continuously innovating world that is F1.

These included the statement that F1 is all about continuous improvement and development and that an F1 car in pole position on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix would, if no further improvements were made to the car, be at the back of the grid by the last race of the season.

He also illustrated the real time and last minute pressures confronting F1 teams, and remembered (not that long ago), flying to a race circuit (on the Friday before Sunday’s race day) with a new front wing section of an F1 car as hand luggage!

EDM Technology

Mark Lasseter, EDM Applications Manager at Agie Charmilles then presented the latest GFAC wire and die-sink innovations that had been introduced over the last 12 months, and highlighted new machines that would be launched in the UK during 2013.

Specific time during Mr Lasseter’s presentation was devoted to GF AgieCharmilles’ revolutionary and ultra-productive AWC (Automatic Wire Change) technology on its advanced wire EDM machines, and the company’s new Integrated Vision Unit (IVU) system on its CUT 1000 machine that provides optical measurement of EDM-machined details that a 3D probe cannot hope to achieve.

These developments alongside other technology advances that include Integrated Collision Protection, Econowatt technology and the integration of CAD/CAM 3-D modelling software, supplied as standard on its new wire machines, provide manufacturers with fast, productive, reliable and high accuracy wire cutting solutions.

On its spark erosion machines Mr Lasseter explained the principle behind GF AgieCharmilles’ IQ (Zero Electrode Wear) Technology – a pioneering system that virtually eliminates graphite and/or copper electrode wear – that is available as standard across its FORM-series of die-sink machines.

Other advances presented included TECFORM - a quick, simple and easy to use module that helps operators select the optimum ‘pre-set’ parameters for their machining requirements, and the new sophisticated, icon-driven AC FORM HMI CNC Control that helps reduce job set-up times and eliminate operator data input errors.

Mr Lasseter concluded his presentation by outlining the high-productivity automation-ready capabilities on GF AgieCharmilles advanced die-sink machines (e.g. fast tool/electrode changers and work-piece pallet changers), and highlighted the performance benefits of the Drill 300 – GF AgieCharmilles’ new, versatile and productive 7-axis EDM drill equipped with its own CAD/CAM system.

Commented Martin Spencer:

‘We have introduced a number of ground-breaking developments in EDM over recent months and more are in the pipeline for 2013.

Milling technology

The floor was then taken by Mr Steve Burrows, Product Manager Milling & Laser, who presented GF AgieCharmilles’ developments across the company’s Standard, High-Performance and High-Speed ranges of milling machines.

After providing an overview of GF AgieCharmilles’ range of 3- and 5-axis machining centres, which included details of the XSM LP range of ultra-high-speed machines said to be ‘the fastest 5-axis simultaneous machines on the market’, Mr Burrows then identified a number of machine-specific and technology strengths that help differentiate GF AgieCharmilles from its competitors.

These included GF AgieCharmilles’ advanced ‘StepTec’ spindle technology; its direct-drive rotary torque tables and heads; its SMART Technology software; the Linear Drive capabilities on its LP series machines, and its integrated automation (work-piece pallet change systems).

Time was then devoted to the recently-launched and best-selling HPM 450U machining centre range (the Lotus F1 Team invested in 6 of these machines earlier this year), and special mention was given to the HEM 500U and HEM 700U standard 5-axis machines due for launch early in 2013, and the new, small and fast HSM 200LP and HSM 200U LP (3- and 5-axis) machines which will be introduced later next year.

Factory Visit

Following the formal presentations visitors were then taken on a factory visit of the Enstone facility where they found out more about Lotus F1 Team’s investment in and application of wind tunnel and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technology, its investment in Advanced Digital Manufacturing (laser sintering) technologies, its new ‘Driver-in-the-Loop’ facility and 7-post testing rig, before moving to the machine shop to see the GF AgieCharmilles EDM (sink and wire), and 5-axis machines in action.

Concludes Martin Spencer:

‘Visitors were particularly impressed by Lotus F1 Team’s use and application of our machine tools – and the improved performance they deliver in terms of accuracy, speed and surface finish.

‘The Enstone facility is a world-class venue and is a perfect location for us to showcase our technologies, and I would like to thank everyone at Lotus F1 Team for all their efforts in making the VIP Technical Seminar such a spectacular success.’


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