With Honda’s NSX celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, the iconic manufacturer set to mark this momentous milestone by producing a new world beating supercar carrying the legendary NSX badge. The car would, of course, have to evolve from the original ground-breaking machine if it was to live up to the iconic name.
The task was set to produce a car to uphold the reputation of Honda’s unique and innovative history. To achieve this, it would have to showcase leading technology by demonstrating the commitment to improved efficiency and lessening the impact on the environment without compromising performance. The twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre V6 working in conjunction with the latest hybrid technology, gives the car an astonishing 0-62mph (100km/h) time of just 2.9 seconds.
Honda came to us with their engine project and specifically requested that we take on the production of the pre-designed block and heads of the V6. Our Advanced Manufacturing Centre has been specifically designed to meet the individual needs of any OEM, which give us the capabilities to meet and exceed any challenge that a customer might come to us with.
The project came to us when Honda was already deep into the design phase of the program, which meant tackling tolerancing and machining challenges that would normally be worked out well in advance to the production phase.
Usually with any manufacturing project our involvement begins in the very early stages of the design process. We would typically go through all parts to be manufactured in fine detail and advise the customer on how to draw the part/design the part, as we know how we would best manufacture it on our fixtures. This process creates a continuous feedback loop between us and the customer to produce a fixed design that fits in with our equipment constraints and our manufacturing processes.
When it comes to advising the customer, we wouldn’t be looking at changing the concept (the concept is defined by the targets set out by the customer). For example, the bore diameter or the piston stroke would be fundamentals that must stay true to the brief. Instead, working in conjunction with engine designers we decide on where it makes sense to relax tolerances without affecting the performance or durability of the engine. We can discuss holding the part in specific configurations on our machines, in relation to certain design features that may be quite difficult to access, finding ways around the areas of contention, such as using different types of tooling which would ideally make it easier to machine the part, both saving time and reducing additional unnecessary costs.
In this particular case, we had to work hard to manufacture parts consistently within these specified tolerances with statistical certainty.
Ultimately, we achieved the tolerances specified, even if some were extraordinarily tight. It has meant that we’ve had to, in certain cases, invest in more expensive tooling and taken a lot of extra time to manufacture parts than would normally be ideal.
Honda wanted particular parts that met certain drawing standards, and we were able to give them exactly what they asked for, which is a testament to our engineering and manufacturing teams.
Given that the NSX is a low-volume, high-end sports car, we had the extra time and ability to use methods that wouldn’t normally be available to mass-produced large-scale OEM programs, coupled with more investment in tooling for this distinct project, to meet – and exceed – Honda’s requirements. It was a pearl of a project, fitting for the marque’s 30th anniversary, and one in which we were proud to play to our strengths.