Case study Software supports success of tooling for carbon composites
For a UK producer of carbon-fibre reinforced parts, adding CAD/CAM programs and a 5-axis machining unit has helped drive profits, reduced production time and expanded the business into even more sectors.
When Simon Farren started Reverie Ltd 13 years ago with the focus upon high-quality carbon fibre aftermarket parts for the motorsport sector, the ex-Lotus engineer couldn't have envisaged the success that would stem from the appetite of car enthusiasts for lighter and faster vehicles. Initially producing body parts and panels from pre-pre fibre glass, Kevlar and carbon fibre to reduce weight in the limited edition Lotus 340R, the business grew when demand started to pour in from the world’s 9,000 or so Lotus Elise drivers.
The Colchester, UK, business – with its own autoclave oven for carbon fibre production – grew exponentially when it won the Petronas FP1 Superbike contract to produce full carbon fibre panel sets for the team.
Bike deal drives growth
The contract soon took the small business to an employee base of 20 with additional contractors drafted in for support for the 14-month build plan. The project enabled Reverie to pour revenue into product development and an expansion of its site and facilities. The re-investment also led to the arrival of a 5-axis routing machine from Thermwood and CAD & CAM packages from Open Mind Technologies.
The addition of the router and Hyper CAD and Hyper Mill from Open Mind in July 2012 enabled the company to “hit the ground running”, according to Farren, who is managing director. “One problem for us was that we were subbing out almost £15,000 of work each month. Whilst the financial implications weren't a critical issue, availability was. We were using leading motorsport subcontractors that could only support us adequately until December. This was when F1 teams loaded the subcontractors with development work for the forthcoming season. The knock-on effect was that we struggled to be able to quote or meet the lead-times of our customers due to the workload of our supply chain. By acquiring our own machine, CAD and CAM software, we have eliminated excessive lead-times, saved over £150,000 in subcontracting costs in the first 12 months and also been able to open our business up to new opportunities.”