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WNT loses weight to speed up F2 Powerboat challenge


The new, lightweight steering arm manufactured at WNT (UK)’s technical centre in Sheffield will help improve the performance of The WNT sponsored Formula 2 powerboat.

WNT (UK)’s sponsorship of Steve Hoult in the Powerboat GP RYA British F2 Championship includes the development of new components for the high performance boat, which is capable of speeds of up to 200kph. Most recently this involved the machining of new steering arms to control the 230 ps V6 two stroke engine.

The parts were machined at WNT (UK)’s Technical Centre in Sheffield where WNT’s Internal Technical Sales Engineer Billy Poore made full use of the latest WNT cutting tool technology to produce a lightweight, yet strong, steering arms from aerospace grade aluminium. The steering arm was machined on the XYZ Machine Tools installed at the technical centre and involved a number of cutting tool strategies covering face milling, profiling, pocket milling, fine finishing and drilling.

“The WNT Technical Centre at Sheffield is here for customer demonstrations and to assist customers achieve the optimum performance from their machines and cutting tools. Manufacturing these parts for the Formula 2 powerboat fits neatly into that and is a perfect way for us to enhance our sponsorship of Steve and enable him to continue to improve his race results,” says Tony Pennington, Managing Director, WNT (UK). “The work gave Billy the opportunity to use the skills and experience that all of our technical Sales Engineers have with an almost free hand in the machining of the aluminium billet to achieve the ideal weight and strength.”

WNT used a variety of indexable and solid carbide cutters on the project, with face milling carried out using its A2790 style 50 mm diameter indexable insert cutters running at 400 m/min at a feedrate of 0.2mm/rev and a depth of cut of 1.0mm and width of cut of 60 per cent of the cutter width. An indexable insert cutter was also used for the rough profiling operations running at 240m/min, feedrate 0.25mm, depth of cut 5.0mm and 100 per cent cutter width engaged. The milling of the pockets and finish profiling was completed using WNT’s HPC solid carbide 90 degree approach and ball nose end mills, running typically at 230m/min, with the drilled holes being achieved with the latest WNT WTX solid carbide high performance drills at cutting data of 300m/min and a feedrate of 0.5mm/rev. The objective of this exercise was to reduce the overall weight to aid performance, while maintaining the structural integrity of the part.

“The original steering arm weighed 1400g, by machining from a billet we have achieved a weight of 850g each, so a total saving of 1100g for the pair of arms. In addition, we have created a component that is stiffer so its performance has increased. While taking 1100g from a powerboat weighing 475kg may not sound much, when combined with other weight saving measures taken by the team a total of 26kg has been taken from the powerboat, which should add greater speed and improve overall performance when the next season starts,” says Billy Poore, Internal Technical Sales Engineer, WNT (UK).

A secondary target for WNT (UK) was that as well as reducing the weight of the steering arms it was important, due to the parts being fully exposed when in place, that they also looked good. The combination of tools and machining strategies ensured that all of the goals set by Steve Hoult and his powerboat team were fully met.