Today I was lucky enough to be invited into the Offroad Armoury workshop in Hailsham by one of our Product Design graduates, Andy Marshall who’s now working there. They’ve got a great setup there, and it was immediately obvious that the work they do to design and build these enormous off-road beasts (some examples shown here!) is to a very high standard.
It really is big boys toys here, and the design and fabrication work on show really did bring a smile to my face. I had a good chat with Andy about how they design their space frames, and how useful weldments are and how these can be used to create beam element finite element models really quickly and effectively, and how this can be coupled with solid and shell element structures (from solid and sheet metal parts in mild steel, chromoly and aluminium) to create versatile and powerful FE models. I really want to try one on one of their space frames!
We discussed the possibility of doing something relating to this with my finite element analysis in design module next year (following on from this year who are modelling most of the components on a bicycle)…or we could even do something with the IMechE’s formula student. It would be great to even put some sensors on the frames, to measure loads and strains, and to feed this back into the models to really understand the behaviour of the frames – follow that up with some lab testing too. It really is great to see Andy doing so well in such a great environment.
We also talked about how to try to make sure our product design students really are aware of local resources, suppliers, machine shops, fabricators and other services to maximise the learning and make sure the product design solutions are as impactful and impressive as possible. Andy volunteered to come in to talk to our final years, so I’ll hold him to that as I think he’d be a great mentor and I think the final years will learn lots by talking to him.
The facilities at Offroad Armoury are really professional and the standard of work is high, I think these guys really going to be a real success in the European market for these off-road beasts!