The Nuclear AMRC’s machining experts have made the most complex and high-value machined part for the Bloodhound supersonic car using SolidCAM’s iMachining – the diffuser floor, which makes its first public appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend.
The diffuser floor is the largest of seven parts made by the Nuclear AMRC for Bloodhound’s rear sub-frame, the assembly that holds the car’s rocket engine in place and provides vital stability. Each part had to be machined from a solid block of aerospace-grade aluminium, to precise specifications, with no room for mistakes.
The diffuser floor measures about one metre square, and features a complex pattern of latticed pockets on the top side, with an aerodynamically sculpted reverse. It will sit beneath Bloodhound’s hybrid rocket engine, and provide the downward force to keep the car on the ground as it reaches 1000mph.
Creating the diffuser floor demanded a total 192 hours of machining time on the Nuclear AMRC’s Hermle C60 U MT, spread over several months between industry research projects. Key stages of machining were caught on a time-lapse video camera, providing a unique view of the production process.
The finished part contains just one ninth of the metal in the original 480kg aluminium billet, with a final weight of 55kg. At its thinnest, the floor is just 5mm thick.
The machining was managed by Mathew Challinor, NC programmer at the Nuclear AMRC. Advanced machine tool operator Andrew Smedley handled work on the Hermle, and Matt Reaney completed the floor’s side walls and pockets on the Starrag HEC 1800 horizontal boring centre.