Core Builders Composites (CBC) specializes in providing tooling solutions for all manner of composite manufacturing. For nearly 15 years, they have worked with customers to develop tooling suitable for a broad spectrum of manufacturing techniques, including vacuum consolidating and vacuum infusion, RTM, wet laminating, and more. CBC provides high-precision 2D and 3D forms, molds, plugs, and more, and provides custom composite manufacturing and metal machining. Among the keys to the company’s success are their two high-precision CNC machining centers from CMS, which have opened up a whole new world of design possibilities for their clients.
From California to New Zealand
Core Builders Composites was founded in Ventura, California, in 2001 to build racing yachts for Oracle Team USA’s entry into the 2003 America’s Cup—and has worked on every Oracle Team USA yacht to compete in the America’s Cup since. The legendary yacht race, first contested in 1851, draws nothing but the best competitors from across the globe.
As the America’s Cup is driven by technology—a boat’s design is as critical as its crew, if not more so—competitors’ vessels require exceptional precision and unwavering adherence to their carefully crafted designs. CBC originally partnered with third parties who could provide the CNC machining capabilities needed to meet those stringent demands. By the time CBC was working on Oracle’s USA 17, the state-of-the-art 90’ by 90’ catamaran that won the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010, they had relocated to Anacortes, Washington, in part to be closer to their preferred CNC machining partners.
Following Oracle Team USA’s 2010 victory, CBC founders Tim Smyth and Mark Turner relocated again, bringing the company to their native New Zealand. Knowing the benefits of CNC machining, but not wanting to rely on outside assistance, the CBC team decided to purchase their own CNC equipment. After much research and review, they wisely turned to CMS.
Soon, Core Builders Composites had procured their first CMS machine, an Ares moving bridge CNC router. CBC used their Ares system to create molds for the construction of fifteen identical AC45 catamarans for the inaugural America’s Cup World Series throughout 2010 and 2011. The Ares’ ability to turn CAD drawings and other digital design files into tangible products quickly and efficiently allowed the first of these AC45s to be launched just four and a half months after the design was started; the 14 other yachts were all produced within one year.
Tooling created for the AC45s included graphite and alloy daggerboard tools and foam core sets. Much of the tooling was significantly larger than the Ares’ six-meter-long work envelope, so CBC developed special techniques for indexing, splitting, and rejoining the tools.
A few years later, Core Builders Composites added a CMSNA Poseidon CNC machining center to their toolbox. The high-speed, 5-axis system features an 18 meter by 6.2 meter by 3 meter work envelope, making it the largest machine of its kind in New Zealand. The massive working area allowed CBC to manufacture large composite tooling for Oracle Team USA’s AC72 wing sailed foiling catamaran for the 34th America’s Cup in 2013. Components created for the AC72 included three 40-meter wings, ten dagger foils, eight rudders, four cross beams and fairings, and three centerline spines.
First and foremost, the America’s Cup is a race; as such, speed is critical. Shipbuilders utilize composite materials because of their excellent strength-to-weight ratio—they minimize weight for better speed, but are strong enough to ensure safety and stability while traversing rough waters. Composites are also immune to harsh environmental conditions that can rust, rot, or warp other materials like wood and steel.
Traditionally a hands-on industry, toolmaking has a long history of highly skilled craftsmen. CBC quickly discovered, however, that CMS’ CNC systems can easily do the work of numerous craftsmen in a fraction of the time, and with far greater precision than handwork could ever achieve. The CAD and digital design compatibility makes it possible to produce components that would be impossible to create by hand, allowing for complete design freedom. Any shape a ship designer may require can be machined with extreme precision and perfect repeatability.
Because of the unique aerodynamic and hydrodynamic requirements of high speed yacht racing, creating components from any material for these vessels requires exceptional accuracy; working with composite materials makes the process more difficult still. The CBC team was more than impressed with the high precision composite machining capabilities of their CMS CNC systems, which allowed them to produce even their largest and most complex part shapes with an overall surface accuracy of 0.2mm.
The static work beds and moving, gantry-mounted, 5-axis workheads of CMS’s machining centers enable CBC to create large-scale parts with superior speed and precision. Running at over 80m/min, they significantly reduced turnaround times for cutting operations.
CMS machining centers also utilize a surface probe system to accurately confirm the position of the workpiece before machining operations begin. The probe creates a 3D map of the part, which is overlaid on the final surface to ensure correct alignment.
Fully enclosed work envelopes with dust management systems allow CBC to machine abrasive materials and those that produce potentially hazardous, electrically-conductive dust—such as carbon fiber and graphite—with ease.
CBC & CMS
With high speed, high precision CMS North America CNC machining centers in-house, Core Builders Composites has started using the technology not just to create tooling, but also for post-processing operations. To keep up with the ever-increasing amount of CNC work, CBC recently ordered another CMS system. Their new Ares 4814PX5 machining center will be delivered and installed soon.
Core Builders Composites has benefitted greatly from CMS’ advanced CNC technology and exceptional service and support. CMS North America has assembled, installed, and calibrated both of CBC’s current CNC machining centers, and will soon do the same for their new Ares system. CBC also likes knowing that replacement parts and troubleshooting assistance are just a phone call away, although the two parties are located on opposite sides of the globe.
CBC has already made history with the help of CMS’ CNC machining technology. With ever-growing CNC capabilities and know-how, they’re poised to do so again, as they continue work on Oracle Team USA’s yacht for the 35th America’s Cup, scheduled to take place in June 2017.
For more information, visit www.corebuilderscomposites.com.