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  • Charles Wahlert

Optimizing from a design perspective

When undertaking the development of a new product, it is important to consider the flexibility of the manufacturing process. Stock prep, set up, and locating can steal valuable time before any chips are made. Many parts designed today have complex features on all sides which require multiple set ups if the shop is not five-axis capable. Focusing on a process which minimizes operator intervention allows for maximum error free production.

Hess Motorsports have made a name for themselves in the off-road racing industry by offering specialty parts with a performance advantage over the OEM. To make these parts affordable to enthusiast racers the part design is optimized to increase performance on track while improving productivity in the shop.

With a starting weight of 45lbs, a solid block of aluminum is transformed in to a spectacular 3lb 3oz hub carrier every 90 minutes. To do this Hess leverage their technique and expertise cultivated as an aerospace contract manufacturer. By utilizing a Mazak horizontal machining center, this allows for much higher spindle utilization and simultaneous 4th axis milling. To reduce this challenging part to a 2 op piece, it is held in a Technigrip vise. Due to the Technigrip’s innovative locating pins, and fully supported dovetail work holding, there is no need to probe the blanks before machining. Removal rates of over 100 cubic inches a minute are sustained using RobbJack’s A1-303 half-inch aluminum endmill at feed rates in excess of 400 IPM. The combination of RobbJack’s chatter eliminating mirror edge technology and Technigrip’s stable work holding allow the 40lb rough out of this geometrically challenging part to be completed in less than 15 minutes.

Hess produces variations of these hubs which are unique to each marque and model of vehicle. Due to the flexibility of this process there is no need for expensive dedicated fixturing which would involve lengthy set up and tear down to run each part number. They are able to pass the savings to their customers, which keeps the demand and spindle usage up!

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