High Performance Manufacturing at Alcon for High Performance Car Components

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..Alcon has gained a worldwide reputation for manufacturing and supplying high specification brake components and clutches to motorsport and for high performance road vehicles.



In the world of motorsport, Alcon became a Technical Partner to the Honda F1 Racing Team by supplying brake callipers of a patented design. Alcon is also cooperating with other Formula 1 teams to develop the next generation of F1 braking systems. Alcon is well known in US motorsport, providing brake components to the leading racing teams of the IRL and NASCAR series.

In addition the motorsport departments within Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen count on the technology of Alcon, as well as some prestigious road car manufacturers; including Brabus, Jaguar, Land Rover and Prodrive.

Allan Ford, Senior Production Engineer with 15 years service at Alcon is one of the “veterans” in the company: “In the last 15 years, I have seen the company grow from 8 to more than 80 employees. Bottom-line; the reason for our success is our flexibility to convert design ideas into metal as fast as possible.”


“For us, SolidWorks is a versatile software tool to accelerate our design process,e.g. in Formula 1, weight is always an issue. We are permanently investigating the reduction of weight while maintaining the stability. For this, we need an easy-to-use and powerful CAD system, which also supports integrated analysis tools. Moreover, we use SolidWorks in the manufacturing department to design fixtures for locating and clamping the workpieces on the machine tools”.


Bob Luck, who joined Alcon as CAD/CAM system manager in the beginning of the year 2004, states: “We analyzed our CAD/CAM process chain for a couple of months and found some weaknesses in our CAM system. As it had not been integrated into SolidWorks, it was sometimes not easy to get the design data quickly enough and error-free into CAM. Furthermore, we had to wait about 6 months to get a suitable post processor from our CAM supplier, so that our Moriseiki CNC machine could run efficiently.” To optimize the overall process, Alcon finally decided to look for a new CAM system.


Bob Luck: ”Our approach gave us the opportunity, not only to test the software functionality, but also the underlying support organization. For us, an excellent local support is absolutely vital.” Finally, Alcon decided to select SolidCAM as the new CAM solution. The company purchased two seats of the combined solution “SolidWorks+SolidCAM” for their manufacturing department.


Bob Luck continues: ” We found out, that SolidCAM reduced our NC programming time by half. Also, we have been pleased with the ease-of-use and power of the 2.5D Machining module. A major criteria for us has been the UK support. Marks Stocks; the Technical Director of SolidCAM UK, helped us a lot in implementing the SolidCAM software in our shop floor, also by customizing the post processors perfectly to our machine tools.



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