Lightweight construction and safety in motor sports
Carbon belongs to motor sports like Porsche belongs on the racing track - as specialist for this modern material, ubc supplies the LMP1 works team of Porsche with high quality attached parts
Die ubc Composites GmbH from Murr in Germany is one of the partners of the Porsche team in the LMP1 class, which plays a vital part in the building of the Porsche 919 Hybrid. The company’s 150-strong workforce is contributing many years of expertise in the processing of carbon to the success of the racing team. For 20 years ubc has been constructing and producing complex components made from the powerful carbon fibres - for motor sports as well as production vehicles like the current Porsche GT3 RS. ubc achieves reliable quality and flexibility with professional competence, 100 percent vertical integration and usage of state-of-the-art technologies. The same applies to chip removal: Three machining centres of the DMU series of DMG MORI set standards with regard to productivity, versatility and accuracy.
For many years, carbon has been regarded as one of the most important materials in motor sports. The extremely light and at the same time highly stable carbon fibre is suited to aerodynamic add-on components as well as to safety-relevant structural parts like the life-saving Monocoque. As ubc has already supplied numerous motor-racing teams in different classes, its experts know very well about the different application options and above all, how these are realised in practice in a targeted way. Thorsten Lengwenus, CNC Team Leader at ubc, sees this as a challenge: “When constructing and machining the carbon parts, we can strongly influence their later properties.” This applies to weight and strength, but also to pressure resistance, vibration resistance and temperature resistance. “In many cases, carbon is a perfect alternative to conventional lightweight construction materials like aluminium and titanium.
ubc and Porsche - partnership with tradition
Since Porsche had already worked together with ubc on motor sports level in the past, the racing team got back to the carbon experts from Murr for re-entry into the LMP1 class. The assignment this time comprises various attached parts for the front and the steering wheel. While single piece machining or small batch sizes are the focus here, ubc is also active in the field of serial production for the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which is also wrapped in a body of carbon, and as repair shop for Porsche. “We can fully repair damaged attached parts, which is usually cheaper than a complete spare part”, says Thorsten Lengwenus.
Production of the carbon workpieces, from construction and design up to post-processing occurs completely in-house at ubc. The reason for the high degree of vertical integration is obvious, as Thorsten Lengwenus explains: “This way we can retain our flexibility and can ensure the quality of the products.” Furthermore, the high technical competence enables repeated realisation of new technical insights time and again. For this, ubc relies on a state-of-the-art and continuously growing infrastructure: Templates are being created according to the CAD drawings, based on which the carbon is trimmed. The individual carbon parts are laminated in a dust-free cleanroom and three autoclaves generate the required pressure and temperature to complete the high-quality components. For chip removal, ubc produces the required moulds for the workpieces. “They are made of aluminium and are milled from a solid block”, Thorsten Lengwenus adds.
DMG MORI in production - versatile and reliable
For the complex milling operations, amongst others ubc has three DMU machining centers from DMG MORI: A DMU 200 P, a DMU 125 P and a HSC 105 linear. The 5-axis models are all equipped with Heidenhain controls. “In order to remain as flexible as possible, we follow the principle that each employee can operate every machine”, says Thorsten Lengwenus describing the philosophy of chip removal. The ubc department is working a single shift, but mounting of the machines is also planned for unmanned shifts: “In the evenings and at night we thus achieve two additional unmanned shifts, in which either long running parts or a number of smaller parts are machined.” The dimensions of the machine tables are sufficient for this.
What applies to the entire workpiece range in chip removal is the high quality standard. “The quality of the end products also depends on the accuracy of the moulds”, says Thorsten Lengwenus. DMG MORI meets these requirements very reliably with its powerful and accurate machines. Reliability is another keyword for the Team Leader: “We rely on CNC machining functioning smoothly.” In the fast moving world of racing, sometimes very short response times must be adhered to.
Motor sports and serial production - successful development on all levels
The current development of the company proves that ubc is feeling optimistic about the future: Since last March, the number of employees has risen from 75 to over 150, and a second factory with almost identical equipment was established specifically for serial production. “We had to increase production capacity to enable us to continue to work in a structured and flexible way”, says Thorsten Lengwenus to explain the obvious decision. Furthermore, there is a recognisable trend in the industry: “Carbon is becoming increasingly more interesting in the automotive industry as an alternative to aluminium.” For example, the light material can compensate the heavy weight of the batteries in electric vehicles a little.
Optimism also prevails at ubc with regard to motor sports: Production for the Porsche 919 Hybrid is continued in the coming season of the LMP1 class. After all, motivation for each supplier of the racing team is particularly high, as the CNC team leader says speaking for the entire team: “It is pretty special to know that one is directly contributing to the success on the track.”
In DMG MORI the racing team has found a partner, which as innovation leader in the field of machine tool manufacturing can contribute to its success in motor sport. DMG MORI supports Porsche in two ways: First, as a long-time supplier for companies that make high-quality vehicle components for the team. Second in the course of the current season a dedicated component production department has been set up at DECKEL MAHO Seebach that supplies Porsche with a growing range of vehicle components. The specially installed „Porsche Motorsport CNC Competence Center“ stands for precision, flexibility and the transfer of innovative technologies. After all the ultimate aim is to develop intelligent manufacturing solutions for demanding parts. Whereby the focus is explicitly on the long-term transfer of technology as the key cornerstone of sustainable success.