Technology that puts historic racers on track offers distinct opportunities for modern designers.
Skills and hi-tech equipment employed by Cti is putting historic racing cars back on track and opening up new opportunities for today’s engine designers. Cti’s capabilities were called upon to recreate two historic racing engines: an engine built by Peugeot in 1913, which is believed to be the first ever engine with four valves per cylinder; and the Alfa Romeo 158 engine that took Juan Fangio to the World Championship in 1951.
Laser scanning and reverse engineering techniques were used to create CAD models of the engines from damaged cylinder blocks and, in the case of the 1.5 litre straight eight Alfa Romeo engine, original cloth drawings. Full process simulation modelling was then used to check how the iron for the Peugeot, and the aluminium alloy for the Alfa, would flow and cool before using additive manufacturing technology to 3D-print the sand moulds for the castings.
Finished castings were put through a full NDT inspection, including radiography, to ensure the cylinder blocks were dimensionally accurate. In this case, the technologies were used to recreate engines for two multimillion pound historic racing cars and were restored by Jim Stokes Workshops, experts in the restoration, re-creation and re-design of historic cars.
However, Richard Gould, commercial manager at Cti, said similar techniques can provide a series of benefits for developers of modern engines. Benefits include reducing the time and cost involved in developing a new engine. “Because you are 3D printing the moulds from a CAD drawing, you don’t have to go to the expense of making and storing expensive wooden patterns,” he said. The organisation had previously produced titanium exhausts, steering racks and gearboxes for modern day Formula One teams.
“Modifications to the initial design are comparatively easy and cheap to make. You can iteratively manufacture and test parts very cheaply and quickly, as there’s no need to make expensive time consuming patterns or tools. Simulation technology means you can have confidence that the engine block will have the material properties you want. You can test a component, tweak it and print it again without wasting money on tooling and, once you have completed the design and moved into production there is no need to store legacy patterns, you just need to keep the CAD models.”
Cti was acquired by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in 2014. Since then, it has been split into two organisations; AMRC Castings, which focuses on research and development, and Cti Ltd, which carries out commercial work.