End Grain Balsa - V cut and profiling
Sometimes opportunities arrive in an unexpected way, this job came about via Ewan Baldry at Juno Racing. His past with Williams (F1) had put him in touch with a well established carbon fibre / composite material manufacturing company (they do quite a lot of specialist work for the racing world ).
Anyway I had been helping Ewan with some moulds etc (see Juno file) and he kindly passed on our details to see if we could help with the manufacturing of an end grain balsa core that they then cast in a carbon fibre composite, this part then goes into making a luxury sports car costing over £300,000.00. (This type of construction is used within F1 boats, as a core its' weight to strength is outstanding.)
Balsa, as you will probably know, is very light and breaks easily on the end grain, even worse is that with this part the edges slope to a fine point. This being hard wood and made up of small blocks posed a big problem. Firstly the stock is too small for the part so a piece had to be attached. Next it is difficult to hold in place as it is fragile and pourous, so a lot of head work and innovation was required initally. A vaccum cover sheet was desiged to solve this. Now it is ready to machine, but the only trouble now is as soon as the cutter touches down it smashes the edge, or you cut so slowly it sets on fire (well burns it). This is where special diamond tools come in . Finally, I went down to their factory (very impressive) with my samples. (They had provided me with a sheet of material). I am pleased to say they were impressed enough to pay for the sample and said it was the best they had seen :)
I have been machining these now for over 2.5 years and although the contract was only for 18 months, they are getting repeat orders and now I'm known to them as the balsa man in Huddersfield.