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Delcams PowerMILL CAM used for Bloodhound tail fin shear plate
Delcams PowerMILL CAM used for Bloodhound tail fin shear plate

Delcams PowerMILL CAM used for Bloodhound tail fin shear plate

Added to MTDCNC by AUTODESK on 22 December 2014

Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software was used by Manufax Engineering to create a highly efficient NC program to machine the tail-fin shear plate for the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car (SSC).  A complex, freeform aluminium component, the shear plate will form the interface between the tail-fin structure and the body of the vehicle for its attempt at the world land-speed record.


Based in Stockport, UK, Manufax is a major supplier to the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and agricultural industries, as well as supporting general precision-engineering businesses.  With several decades of experience, the company provides specialist tooling design and manufacture across all disciplines, including jigs and fixtures for airframe assembly, mould tools, automotive tooling and components for nuclear power generation.  Manufacturing is Manufax’s core business and the company has an excellent reputation for supplying its customers with a quality precision-engineering service.


A dedicated and multi-disciplined workforce has been trained to adapt to the unique and challenging projects undertaken at Manufax.  Both these criteria can certainly be applied to Bloodhound SSC, a jet  and rocket powered car designed to go at 1,000 mph.  Manufax is no stranger to the Bloodhound SSC project, having produced the mounting frame for the HTP (High Test Peroxide) fuel tank, and an assembly jig that is being used to assemble and align the lower chassis, side rails and upper chassis.


The company’s Correa FP50 five-axis gantry-type machining centre was selected to produce the component in aircraft-grade aluminium.  CAD/CAM Projects Engineer, Mark Brittain, used PowerMILL to produce the five-axis NC program to machine the shear plate, with its very demanding geometric forms, from a single billet of aluminium. 


At the suggestion of Tony Theaker, Area Manager for SGS Carbide Tool (UK), Mr. Brittain used the Vortex area-clearance strategy in PowerMILL and an SGS S-CARB APR three-flute roughing end-mill to rough the part in one operation.  Like Delcam, SGS is a partner in the Bloodhound project.

The combination of the Vortex strategy and the SGS tooling resulted in significant cycle time savings of over 40 per cent. 'We were a little sceptical at first, as the cutting data being suggested for the S-CARB APR cutting tool was providing phenomenal results within PowerMILL,'Mr Brittain recalled.  ‘We could not afford to scrap the raw material so we set up a trial cut with a sample of the same grade of aluminium on the machining centre, and applied the speeds, feeds and depths of cut suggested by SGS.’


‘The trial proved our trust in PowerMILL’s NC code and the cutting tool was well founded, continued Mark Brittain.  ‘They performed remarkably well together.   As well as giving the predicted time savings, the toolpath and the cutting action reduced any deflection of the thin walls of the rough machined part.’

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