Classic cars get WMG laser solution

Warwick University’s WMG is using highly accurate laser measurement to help make custom parts for classic cars

Warwick University’s WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) is using highly accurate laser measurement to help make custom parts for classic cars.

WMG’s Craftsmanship team has recently installed a £350,000 laser measurement machine, supplied by Derbyshire-based Metris UK, that can measure to the nearest micron anything from the smallest component to a complete car.

The team plans to demonstrate this technology next week by laser scanning a priceless Lea Francis Hyper which won the 1928 Ulster TT race to develop a unique computer model of the car.

Lead researcher Dr Mark Williams said of the technology: ‘No other university in the country has one and the cost usually means that only the biggest manufacturing companies are able to use them.

‘The story with the Lea Francis, as with many other classic cars, is that they are often ‘one-of-a-kind’ examples with engineering drawings hard to find, making it difficult to manufacture new components or replace broken ones.

‘But the computer model we will produce will mean all the components of the car can be reverse engineered so that new ones can be made to fit exactly. So cars like this can virtually last forever – the ultimate in environmentally-friendly racing.’

Williams’ research, funded by Advantage West Midlands, will help components suppliers learn new skills and ultimately produce better cars.

Williams said: ‘Because these machines are so expensive, suppliers can’t get access to them and it can be difficult to work out problems with a component if you can’t measure it accurately or see how it fits into the whole vehicle. Now local suppliers will be able to use this facility here at the university and that means cars with less rattle and an all-round better fit. It also means jobs and companies in the West Midlands can compete with overseas companies that are already grasping this technology.’