Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) partnered with Hurco to gain an edge in the competitive world of IndyCar. Two Hurco CNC machines grind out parts for the motorsports team located in Speedway, Indiana. In return, the Hurco logo is displayed on the team’s cars and uniforms in addition to special access for customer events during the IndyCar season.
Robbie Ott, the head machinist at CFH Racing runs the machine shop. He discussed the transition to Hurco machines after we installed our flagship Hurco VMX42i mill and a TM8i lathe. Ott also elaborated on the possible benefits he expects when the shop adds the Hurco VMX42SRTi 5-axis machine.
"Switching from manual machining to 3-axis CNC, setup times have been reduced, even with the need for cutting soft jaws. Although the soft jaws take a lot of time that would not have been spent necessarily in the manual world, the time savings incurred is priceless. The CNC's manual jog and DRO also save time making part setup quick. I would imagine that when I make the switch to 5-axis machining, setup times will be reduced again, possibly more than the reduction from manual to 3-axis.The need for only two setups per part vs. six (or even more) will reduce setup times tremendously and I am looking forward to making the switch," said Ott.
“Workholding was nearly non-existent in the manual world, so moving into 3-axis opened up a new world for me with fixturing. I have built some pretty extravagant fixtures for machining 4-6 sides of a part (not including the initial 'first op' side). A great deal of the work I do on the Hurco is experimental and proprietary damper parts.The Dampers, or 'shock absorbers' are one of the most important parts of an Indy car and Hurco has allowed us to make strides in developing our own manifolds for managing fluid flow. These parts require multiple fixtures for machine opps on all sides and some angular setups.I am eager to get started with the VMX42SRTi and reduce my fixturing to one simple mount for the other 5 sides of a part or 'hemisphere' if you will.”
"I would say that the accuracy of parts is tremendously better with the 3-axis CNC vs. manual machining.I would say that the accuracy of parts is tremendously better with the 3-axis CNC vs. manual machining.I was pretty good at holding half of a thousandth tolerance on the manual machine (if needed), but it was painful.With the Hurco machines, I get tenth of thousandths tolerance without even trying.The major advantage of moving from 3-axis to 5-axis I anticipate will be the accuracy in which the respective operations line up on the finished product.We all know that a half of a thousandth difference in surface matching is visible and can even be felt.Getting it perfect in the 3-axis machine is next to impossible (you are only as good as your fixture is!).Need I say I rarely attempted these types of operations in the manual mill, and at the end of the day, functionality was key, and abrasives were almost always necessary," explained Ott.
"I was completely amazed the first time I saw the Hurco cut metal!I had never seen such beauty.The combination of being flooded in Quaker coolant and the precise match of feeds and speeds left a surface finish that I never knew could be produced.The improvement that I look forward to in the switch to 5-axisis in the transition from surface to surface as described before."
"Having a TMX8i and VMX42i machine next to each other has become a processing dream.After I became fluent in both "languages" if you will, I find myself often making use of both machines at the same time. Often I am turning a part in the lathe that I will then put in the mill for some milling opps to turn out a finished part efficiently. One example of this is threaded spring perches which I have made often, even before Hurco.This part has a series of holes around it for a spanner wrench, and a couple of threaded holes as well. I write 8 short programs, placing a position block in between so I can open the door and turn the table to press start again.This may seem barbaric, but believe me, it is still 10 times faster than doing it on a manual mill.This is a processing improvement that I look forward to when I switch to the 5-axis machine, no more rotary table. Other times my Hurcos are making completely different items, either way, it can be extremely productive for me."
Flexibility in prototype manufacturing
"I especially like using the Hurco when building prototypes. Just recently we built prototype damper parts. And like with most prototypes, we did not succeed the first time. Hurco gave us the flexibility to make modifications quickly and easily without starting from scratch.Hurco and HSM Works solid modeling allowed us to build these extravagant and complicated parts that would not have been possible on the manual machine," concluded Ott.