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                                      2016 F1 in schools

A Warwick based precision engineering company is supporting engineers of the future by sponsoring students in Coventry in an international competition
A group of Year 10 and 11 students from the WMG Academy for Young Engineers recently took part in the 2016 F1 in Schools competition. Having won the regional final in February, Academy Racing went on to compete in the national finals held over two days at Silverstone in April.
Beating off stiff competition from 39 other teams, Academy Racing won the trophies for Fastest Car and Innovation as well as emerging victorious in the knockout competition.
F1 in Schools involves students from over 40 countries competing for the Bernie Ecclestone F1 in Schools World Championship trophy. Entrants use CAD/CAM computer software to design, analyse, manufacture, test and race miniature F1 cars which are powered by a small CO2 cylinder and can reach speeds of 50mph over a 20m track.
Robert Hodge, engineering technician at the academy, helped support the students’ entry. He comments: “F1 in Schools is one of the WMG Academy’s enrichment activities and the whole event was a steep learning curve. The team initially focused on basic car design – learning what can be achieved with the CAD/CAM facilities and what ideas worked the best.
The race car may only be balsa model, but the level of technology involved belies its appearance.”
He adds: “We were really lucky to have the support of James Camden Engineering with their state of the art CAM equipment. This enabled us to design ultra lightweight wheels, which was key to winning the Fastest Car award.
The event drew on a wide range of technical skills and a range of software packages including SolidWorks and computational fluid dynamics. With additional information from mechanical wind tunnel, this was used to optimise the design for the regional and national finals.
Dave Bloxham, CEO of James Camden Engineering believes that companies have to be proactive in supporting the next generation of engineers. “It’s no use complaining that we can’t find skilled staff if we aren’t prepared to invest in training,” he comments. “It’s important for companies like James Camden to inspire the engineers of the future.

Addictive Manufacturing


Innovate 2 Make is a leading proponent of the very latest additive manufacturing technology using direct metal laser sintering. However, the technology relies heavily on toolroom skills and knowledge supplied by James Camden Engineering, a Warwickshire-based tool and mould making specialist that has invested in three Excetek wire EDM machines, supplied by Warwick Machine Tools, to meet its business demands.


Innovate 2 Make (i2M) was initially set up in 2011 in Warwick, but moved to its current Birmingham facility in 2012 and established a focused additive manufacturing (AM) based facility that is the pinnacle of modern engineering in the area. As AM offered a new approach to manufacturing complex structures in a wide range of materials, such as aluminium, titanium, Inconel, stainless steel and so on, the company recognised the need to provide open access to this exciting new technology and has already helped a number of major manufacturing companies to adopt the technology into their production processes.

The AM process works directly from the Computer Aided Design model (3D CAD). It orientates the components and slices the CAD data into layers that are then drawn in the build chamber, in i2M’s case using a Ytterbium (Yb) fibre laser fired on to a powder bed containing fine metallic ‘powder’ particles. Each layer is ‘grown’ together to produce the final metallic component.

From its inception the company’s business plan was to target customers in the technically challenging spheres of motorsport and aerospace. “That said, the first part we produced was a titanium stiletto high-heel for a shoe designer. Since then we’ve done just about everything, jewellery, teeth, car and bike components, as well as aerospace parts,” recalls i2M co-director, Mike Kelly.

One of the significant advantages that many supporters of the AM process highlight is its ability to start producing parts without tooling. While i2M call it tool-less production, Mike Kelly is quick to point out that this is not strictly true. “People see it as casting; I like to think of it as elegant welding. As the parts are grown they will often require some form of support structure that can be grown at the same time as the component. While we can vary the density of the supporting elements, such that they can be removed by hand – peeled away from the finished component, sometimes the support is more intricate, requiring specialist knowledge and equipment,” he explains.

This is where James Camden Engineering comes in. Possessing both the precision engineering knowledge and the specialist equipment, in the form of three Excetek CNC wire EDM machine tools, the company works hand-in-glove with i2M to remove all of the supporting structures, protective shells and excess material, such as base plates, from the parts.

Dave Bloxham, managing director of James Camden Engineering, says: “The AM process allows design engineers to push the boundaries in industries looking for performance and also cost advantages. They can create components to fit exactly within very confined spaces, reducing weight without compromising performance. For example, we worked with i2M on components for an intricate motorsport cooling system. There was no way the design specification could have been achieved without using additive manufacturing.”


Complex components such as these will always require an element of post AM work, and the skilled toolmakers at James Camden work with i2M to finish parts to the customers’ specification. Most of this is achieved by CNC wire EDM machines from Excetek. Housed in the company’s 4,000 ft2 facility the three wire machines are surrounded by traditional and CNC machine tools, and a staff of 8 with a wealth of good, old fashion, British machining skills.

To meet the requirements of i2M the company initially purchased a V350G Excetek machine from WMT. An entry level machine that is not short of capacity the V350G provides comparative performance levels to Swiss and Japanese wire EDM machines, but with cost saving of between £20,000 and £25,000 against any equivalent size machine tool. Fitted with a 600 litre tank, it is capable of accommodating workpieces up to 700 x 500 x 215 mm and weighing up to 450 kg.

Dave Bloxham says: “With the growing demand from i2M we required more capacity, the ease of use and the faultless performance of the first Excetek machine resulted in us returning to WMT for a further two. So we selected two mid-sized V650G machines.”

For Further Information:
Warwick Machine Tools

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