in Aerospace / Space / Events

The UK's most exciting engineering stories

Posted 30 April 2014 · Add Comment

If you want to know out how to land a vehicle on Mars, design a new lifeboat or recreate an iconic 1930s aeroplane, then Subcon 2014 is the place to find out.

Above: Abbie Hutty of Airbus Defence & Space with two of the prototype ExoMars Rovers.

Subcon 2014, which runs at the NEC, Birmingham, from 3 to 5 June, is the only UK trade show dedicated to contract and subcontract manufacturing.

The show covers every aspect of outsourced manufacturing services, from design and prototyping through to final production and testing, and covers all areas of manufacturing technologies.

Running alongside the show is a three-day, free-to-attend conference, organised by The Engineer, which includes a series of ‘Show & Tell’ sessions on some of the UK’s most exciting engineering stories.

On Tuesday 3 June, Abbie Hutty, a Spacecraft Structures Engineer on the ExoMars Rover Vehicle Team, will talk about the massive challenges involved in this project.

She says: “Our biggest challenges structurally are loads and the thermal case. We hit the ground at 15g axially (plus 10g lateral) and have individual unit load cases up to 180g. Thermally, once on the planet we are exposed to night-time temperatures of -125 degrees C, and can have daytime temperatures – when we are expected to be fully functional – as low as -85 degrees or as high as five degrees.

“These lead to massive problems with differential thermal expansion, not just in the structure, but also in the electronics and exposed mechanisms, such as the drive motors.
“We also have to constantly heat our rover to prevent everything from just freezing and have a power budget of only 700W.”

She adds: “Everything has to be super-clean so that we don’t contaminate another planet with Earth-life, so has to be intensively sterilised before launch. I could go on….Basically everything is a challenge!”

For John Lawson, the challenge was to reverse engineer one of the most complicated components in a 1930s aeroplane that never flew. This will be the focus of his talk on Wednesday 4 June entitled: ‘Recreating the Bugatti 100p – from drawing board to flying display 1937 – 2014’.

Above: John Lawson reverse engineered the complex gearbox on the Bugatti 100p.

The only plane designed by the renowned Ettore Bugatti, the 100p was an Art Deco design classic. Although completed, it never flew and was left to rot in a French barn. Now, 75 years later, a new version of the plane is set to take to the skies.

John says: “The Bugatti is one of the most sublime, influential and awe-inspiring aircraft the world has ever seen. What makes it more so is the fact that it never flew.”

His role in the project has included reverse engineering what is possibly the most complex component in the aircraft – the nose-mounted gearbox. This component takes the drive from the twin engines and distributes the drive to twin contra-rotating propellers.

Peter Eyre is the RNLI’s Senior Naval Architect and on Thursday 5 June will be talking about the design principles embodied in the new Shannon All-Weather Lifeboat.

Above: The Shannon Lifeboat is designed to operate in the most challenging conditions around the UK coast.

“The Shannon is designed to operate in the roughest and most challenging conditions that are likely ever to be found around the coast line of the UK and Ireland,” says Peter.

There are two main design considerations, he says: “Firstly strength and robustness are critical, not just for the primary structure of the hull, deck and wheelhouse but also for all the fittings and systems aboard the vessel that are subject to extreme slamming accelerations in all directions.

“Secondly, and most importantly, the crew need protection from these dangerous motions too.”

Other sessions focus on the creation of a revolutionary air-breathing rocket engine for re-usable space vehicles, the application of high technology in elite sport and the story behind the Crossrail project. The Conference programme also includes keynote addresses by speakers from Rolls-Royce, Siemens and Pratt & Whitney, as well as presentations on supply chain and re-shoring issues.

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