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Gopher Motorsports gains competitive edge with Jet Edge Waterjets

 

February 19, 2016 - Determined to race its way to a Top 10 finish at the intensely competitive Michigan Formula SAE this May, the University of Minnesota’s Gopher Motorsports team has enlisted the help of waterjet manufacturer Jet Edge Inc. to cut parts for the team’s #52 G04-16 Formula SAE race car.

St. Michael, Minnesota-based Jet Edge has been busy waterjetting a wide range of carbon composite, steel and aluminum parts for the Gophers, who are building an open-wheeled, open cock-pit race car for the Society of Automotive Engineer’s largest and most prestigious global collegiate competition May 11-14 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). Among the parts being waterjet are mounting tabs for the frame, structural inserts for the wings, and several other components, including the chain guard and brake rotors. 

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“Using waterjet is the fastest way to produce parts with the geometry that we’ve designed,” said Nathan Tigges, Gopher Motorsports FSAE vice president (mechanical engineering/class of 2018). “Based upon our good experiences with waterjet cutting, we have redesigned several CNC parts to be manufactured as an assembly from waterjet parts, such as our rear bellcranks.”

Tigges noted that Jet Edge has been very helpful in saving the students time, money and material, which should give the 34-member team an edge in the important “Cost Report” event at the Michigan competition.

“We are able to produce high quality parts at low cost, both in monetary and personnel terms,” he said. “Having a great sponsor like Jet Edge reduces the time we would otherwise spend in the shop ourselves, and lets us use money that otherwise would be spent on the same services elsewhere. That not only lets our members work on other projects, but also lets us stretch our budget. Using waterjet technologies improves our competitiveness, because it helps us reduce our estimated large-scale production cost in the ‘Cost Report’ event at competition. Rather than pricing these parts as machine parts, we are able to quote the cost of waterjet cutting, which drives down the overall budget in our Cost Report.”

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Working with Jet Edge’s team has been a great learning experience, Tigges added.     

“From working with Jet Edge, we have figured out ways to more efficiently utilize the raw materials that we have,” he said. “Jet Edge’s Machinist Brian Wallace helped us save half of a sheet of carbon composite material by nesting our pieces more efficiently, which really helps us out. More importantly, we will be able to implement some of those efficiencies to help out down the road!”

Wallace, who runs Jet Edge’s waterjet applications test lab, has been cutting the team’s parts on Jet Edge’s premier EDGE X-5 5-axis waterjet system. This CNC-controlled industrial waterjet system transforms ordinary tap water and garnet abrasive into a 75,000 psi hair-thin bullet-fast abrasive waterjet that cuts precise shaped parts from virtually any material. The system uses a Jet Edge hydraulic intensifier pump to pressurize the water, which is then forced through a jewel orifice, mixed with abrasive and focused through a nozzle. Wallace used a .010/.030 orifice/nozzle combination and 0.5 pounds per minute of 80 grit garnet abrasive to cut the Gophers’ parts.

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Gopher Motorsports plans to finish building their #52 race car by mid-March and to unveil it in April.  

Jet Edge President Jude Lague said he is very proud that Jet Edge has had the opportunity to help Gopher Motorsports.

“It’s always exciting to work with the talented engineering students at the University of Minnesota,” Lague said. “It’s no secret that we love racing at Jet Edge. We’ll be cheering for Gopher Motorsports to win the Michigan Formula SAE, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel on sponsor drive day.”

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