A passion for excellence in motor sport – drives Cougar RED forwards!
Kettering-based precision component manufacturer – Cougar RED (Race Engineering Design) Ltd is a company with big ambitions – and is well on the way to achieving many of them in the tough, highly competitive motor sport sector.
Cougar RED – established in May 2005 by company directors Paul Copperwheat and Mark Taylor – designs and manufactures complex motor sport parts and components.
To achieve and sustain growth - the company has adopted (and operates) a flexible business model. This business approach has seen Cougar RED build a solid reputation as a specialist precision subcontractor in the motor sport sector handling, as Company Director, Paul Copperwheat says:
‘...all the difficult, complex jobs that nobody else can (or wants) to deal with…’
It has also seen the company develop its specialist in-house design and machining capabilities still further - to manufacture its very own, highly-innovative racing motorbike components. These include (amongst other parts) - a new high-performance and ultra-efficient oil cooler system for Honda CBR1000RR bikes and a whole host of spare and replacement performance parts designed and produced for Kettering-based motorbike specialist company - Dave Cooper Racing.
The company’s design and manufacturing expertise and know-how – plus the Directors’ (Paul Copperwheat and Mark Taylor) passion for motorbikes and motorbike racing – are also vital elements in Cougar RED achieving a long-held ambition…to design and manufacture a British 125cc race bike that can compete on the British, European and World stages – and that can challenge Japanese dominance in these events. The engine they have prototyped and successfully run shows much potential, and will be able to run on environmentally friendly bio-fuels.
To help the company achieve these objectives and maintain its innovative and competitive edge – Cougar RED has recently made significant investments in Hardinge CNC machine tools – which, to date, includes 2 x Bridgeport 760 XP3 vertical machining centres and a Hardinge Elite 8/51 lathe.
The parts produced by Cougar RED are manufactured from a diverse range of materials – plastics, aluminium, titanium, exotic alloys and hardened steels – and are machined to extremely close tolerances (5 microns).
These parts, including cylinder heads, power valves, oil coolers, injection inlets, brake and clutch levers, slipper clutches and various chassis parts are often required in small batches (sometimes one-offs). Furthermore lead times are always tight - and ensuring and maintaining part quality is of critical importance.
The 2 x Bridgeport vertical machining centres installed at Cougar RED’s facility are real high-performers – and are from the popular, fast-selling Hardinge XP3 range of milling machines. They provide Cougar RED with the high accuracy, optimum removal rates, excellent surface finishes and overall process reliability demanded by the company.
The 760 XP3 machines are compact and are equipped with a high-performance 12,000rpm 40 face and taper spindles (increased axial and radial rigidity for heavy-duty machining ops). The machines also feature the powerful Heidenhain iTNC 530 control (short block processing times - 0.5ms; and impressive look-ahead functionality – 256 blocks); rapid rates of 43m/min; fast acceleration/ deceleration (6, 5, 4 m/s2 on X, Y and Z axes) and a 4 second chip-to-chip tool change time from their 30-position ATC’s.
Whilst the machines are fast – they are also inherently versatile and accurate too. The 760 XP3’s are supplied with 4/5 axis (rotary table) interface – and, with Cougar RED’s first machine (installed May 2005), this has been utilised via a Nikken table – enabling the company to machine complex parts in fewer set-ups and reduce part cycle times. Other options on the machines include glass scales for increased positional accuracy.
The company’s Elite II 8/51 lathe with live tooling and bar feeder enables Cougar RED to be equally productive in machining turned parts.
The Elite II lathe features synchronised spindle movement/action with the machine’s X and Z axes to enable 3-D contouring and complex round and prismatic machining to be achieved. The live tooling option (on all stations) increases the productivity and performance of the machine and enables end and cross- milling/drilling operations to be performed – even on the toughest materials. The addition and integration of the bar feeder again increases the machine’s productivity and improves work throughput.
Says Paul Copperwheat:
‘Having access to the latest advanced CNC machine tool technology is vital to our company. We are involved in the manufacture of performance critical components – and our machines have to deliver. It’s as simple as that.
‘We are a relatively new company – but we live and die by the quality and reliability of our products and the manufacturing processes that underpin them. The Hardinge machine tool investments we have made are helping us build our reputation and are instrumental in ensuring we achieve our business goals.’
Commenting on the investments made by Cougar RED, David Andrew, Sales & Marketing Director at Hardinge said:
'Our technologies are used extensively in the motor sport sector by OEMs, tier 1 suppliers and precision subcontractors alike. In addition, through Hardinge Bridgeport Motorsport sponsorship - we also have a keen interest in racing bikes and look forward to seeing Cougar RED's ambitions, with the help of our technology, realised in the near future.'