For over 20 years, ITG have been setting the pace in air filter technology. They manufacture foam based air filters, air boxes, and other induction equipment for motorsport, road vehicles, and power boats. They develop the latest air filter technologies for the FIA Formula 1 championship teams, British Touring Cars, British and World Super Bikes, Le Mans Series and the World Rally Championship.
ITG approached us to support with the development of a prototype induction system for an aftermarket Volkswagen tuning specialist. The system would be used in the mk7 Golf GTi vehicle for a championship race to be held later that year and ultimately launched in the performance accessories after market. Rather than investing lots of money in tooling for this prototype, ITG were searching for a low cost prototype option that would allow them to evaluate packaging constraints and to establish performance gains. The prototype would need to function on a running engine.
We suggested that ITG look at the use of Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) to develop the prototype, however there were a number of different elements involved in developing the system. Working with Dr Alex Attridge in WMG’s Metrology Research Group, Dr Ben Wood coordinated the 3D laser scanning of the packaging space of the engine bay, to define the size of the prototype. The laser scanner documents thousands of measurement points every second. The process took minutes rather than hours of complex, manual, measuring.
Dr Wood then went on to review the specific materials and type of ALM that would be required to develop the prototype. The material had to be a specialist polymer able to withstand temperatures of up to 175 °C. Due to the size of the complete prototype required, the CAD design had to be re-worked so it could be built in a number of parts on the Fortus 400MC, the largest FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) machine that WMG has, based at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation. The prototype parts were then printed and put together ready for testing in the vehicle.
The use of ALM to produce a prototype of this size was unique in the industry and ITG were delighted that, after a robust product verification and validation process, they were able to determine the requirements for the system. Volkswagen Racing went on to approve the design, and ITG were then able to develop tooling to produce 3,000 of the final system. This was a completely new process for ITG which saved them much time and cost, and could be replicated for other clients in the future. It allowed them to spend time thinking about the complete design process including the look and feel adding significant value to the product. The original prototype is still in use within a test vehicle and has proved to be extremely robust.
The project led to two jobs being safeguarded in the business and has opened up a number of new opportunities.
Without assistance from WMG's, Dr Ben Wood and Dr Alex Attridge, the process would have heightened lead time and increased marginal cost. WMG offer exceptional opportunities and innovative solutions for small businesses and low volume manufacturers to rapid prototype pre-productions items with outstanding accuracy using state of the art technology.
Jonathan Douglas, Chairman, ITG Ltd