An ‘exhausting’ task at Goodfabs

New turret mill allows specialist fabricator to bring jig manufacture in-house

Posted on 29 Oct 2018 and read 728 times
An ‘exhausting’ task at GoodfabsGoodfabs has been supplying fabricated exhaust systems for leading motor-sport teams since it was founded by former McLaren employee Steve Good in 1982.

Since his untimely death in 1999, Mr Good’s legacy has continued through a team that has continued to develop the business with customers that include many current and former Formula One teams, along with those racing in other series — including Le Mans, Nascar, Indy Car, World Rally and Touring Car championships.

Goodfabs’ reputation is built on its expertise in welding thin-wall materials, in particular titanium and Inconel.

As the business developed, it also started to manufacture its own tube in-house; this is then bent and fabricated into complex exhaust systems that are designed to enhance engine performance.

Motor-sport customers generally have demanding and inflexible schedules, so achieving prompt deliveries is of paramount importance — hence the company’s recent investment in an XYZ SMX SLV turret mill to produce fabrication jigs.

Goodfabs’ process manager, Paul Watson, said: “Because the exhaust systems we produce are bespoke, we either need the car here to fit the exhaust system, which is generally impractical, or we make a jig that replicates the mounting points on the car.

“Prior to getting the XYZ SMX SLV machine, we could only machine the smaller parts of jigs, with the rest being put out to sub-contract; and while our sub-contractor produced parts of the quality and accuracy we required, we suffered some loss of control. With lead times being short, total control of production is vital to us.”

The SMX SLV is the largest turret mill available from Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (www.xyzmachinetools.com), although larger bed mills are available.

This machine has a 1,473 x 305mm table that can carrying components weighing up to 580kg, and a work envelope of 1,000 x 410 x 400mm.

Moreover, the head can be tilted front to back by +45 to -45deg and from left to right by +90 to -90deg — and the turret can be rotated through 360deg.

Customers have the choice of a three-axis digital read-out (a fourth axis can be accommodated as an option) or the ProtoTrak control in either its two- or three-axis configuration.

The three-axis configuration was the one selected by Goodfabs.

Machine choice


Companies choose machines for a variety of reasons.

For Goodfabs’ latest purchase, these included familiarity (during his appraisal, one of the company’s operators suggested improvements to production and highlighted XYZ machines as an option, having used them at a previous company), and the support that followed the initial contact with XYZ’s area sales manager.

Mr Watson said: “The fact the he could bring a desk-top version of the ProtoTrak control in to us for a demonstration was a big plus, as it gave us the confidence we sought that the control would meet our requirements.

“That said, we did have some concerns regarding delivery and installation.

“With space in our workshop at a premium, other machines would have to be moved and production interrupted to get the XYZ machine in place.

“Given who we work for and the tight deadlines that have to be met, we can’t afford to stop for too long; we needed a specific time — let alone day — for delivery, so disruption could be kept to a minimum.

“XYZ made it very clear that the machine would be delivered when promised, and this allowed us to make the necessary plans to minimise any down-time. Moreover, we were cutting metal on the new machine within hours of it arriving.

“The addition of the SMX SLV turret mill has helped to smooth our manufacturing process, while giving greater control over manufacturing and quality; it has also improved flexibility, as changes to designs can be quickly implemented.

“We already have three- and five-axis machining centres for producing fittings for our exhaust systems, but the addition of the XYZ turret mill has added an extra dimension to our machining capability.”

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