CAD/CAM Software Keeps Racecar on Track

Students at the University of Connecticut School of Engineering in Storrs, Connecticut, love the hands-on experience provided by the UConn Formula SAE project. Organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers), the Formula SAE (FSAE) competition challenges university undergrad and graduate teams to design, build, and test a Formula-style racecar for the non-professional weekend autocross racer.

For many years, the UConn FSAE team has traveled to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, to compete in the annual international Formula SAE competition. CNC Software, Inc. has been the team’s title sponsor for the past several years.

“Every year, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Dylan Palin, mechanical engineering student and 2019 president of the University of Connecticut FSAE team. “There’s a long history of brilliant members who made a lot of headway with difficult design, studies, and testing.”

For the car designed for the 2019 competition in Michigan, the team chose 4130 chrome alloy steel for the construction of the racecar frame, cast magnesium uprights for the wheels, and 6061 aluminum and 4130 steel tubing for the suspension. In-house manufacturing is performed on CNC machining centers and manual mills and lathes. Team members use Mastercam to design parts and run machine tools. You can read a press release about the 2019 season here: CAD/CAM Software Keeps Race Car Design and Production on Track.

“This is a huge help for us because writing G-code is an acquired skill,” said Palin. “Mastercam makes it accessible for all of us. We do all of our design work in SOLIDWORKS.”

Users program parts directly in Mastercam for SOLIDWORKS then access the Mastercam machining tree for quick access to any point in the machining process. Fully associative toolpaths permit changes without slowdowns, and updated Stock Modeling, Toolpath Verification, and Simulation feature to ensure user confidence on every project. The Tool Manager function provides efficient creation and organization tooling assemblies. Once a part is programmed, job elements can be modified, and toolpaths are immediately updated.

“Mastercam is used in-house during the manufacturing phase to machine our steering rack mounts, differential pillow blocks, bell cranks, and other small parts,” said Kenneth Brown, 2019 UConn FSAE chief engineer. “The Applications Team at CNC Software helps with some of our more complex parts, including our combination hub spindle and sprocket adapter.”

For parts machined in-house, UConn team members rely on user-friendly 2D contour toolpaths. Mastercam Verify lets programmers check for gouges and view finished part shapes in the Verify simulation screen. Productivity increases and problems are addressed before parts are ever cut.

“We really enjoy using Mastercam’s Verify feature when machining parts for the racecar because it allows us to check for tool collisions and make sure the selected toolpath and parameters machine the desired features,” Brown said.

Mastercam continues to partner with the University of Connecticut and other educational institutions to help pave the way for aspiring engineers. Hand-on experiences, like the Formula SAE project, are key to applying classroom knowledge in a fast-paced workplace environment.

As a partner of SAE International, Mastercam provides free software to teams that participate in Formula SAE competition. All you need to do is have a team representative complete a registration form for the free software and support.