Park Sheet Metal of Coventry have used two LVD laser profiling machines to break new ground in the production of the new Lea Francis 20/230 sports roadster.
Traditionally, the progress of a modern car design from concept to production is a fearsomely expensive business. When that vehicle is a low-volume product, then the tried-and-trusted route is to combine a separate, highly rigid, welding tube-based chassis with a moulded glass fibre body.
Using this method avoids the tooling costs associated with monocoque pressed metal body-chassis construction and offers considerable flexibility in the development of the vehicle.
Until recently, that was the only cost-effective option available to low-volume car builders.
At Park Sheet Metal, however, the adoption of the pioneering laser methods – using an LVD shape-punch press and two LVD multi-axis press brakes – means both the sub-chassis tub and the front and rear suspension sub-frames are constructed directly from laser cut components.
The LVD Impuls and LVD Helius laser-profiling machines were supplied by LVD of Marlow.
The resulting structure combines the high torsional rigidity and light weight of a monocoque but retains, and can even improve upon, the low-volume cost-effectiveness of a welded tube substructure. The process is such that the structure is equally suitable for clothing in a moulded glass fibre, or a pressed or hand-made metal body.
Use of fabricated sub-frames to support the suspension has introduced considerable flexibility in the development of the suspension geometry, allowing it to be finalised much later in the design’s evolution.
`We tend to say to customers that if they can draw it, we can make it,’ said Jonathan Payne, director of Park Sheet Metal. `Our investment has enabled us to substantiate that claim. The first LVD machine was a press brake which, at the time, represented very good value for money. In a way that machine was the key that unlocked the door.’
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