Stainless steel components help to refine warship design

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HepcoMotion has supplied stainless steel PRT Precision Ring Track, HD Heavy-Duty linear slide and beam, and a Lo-Pro low-profile linear slide, together with aluminium framework profiles, for use in a Government-funded test rig at the University of Liverpool.

Warship design may, in the future, be influenced by research being undertaken by the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool. The Government-funded project required the University to design an instrument to measure the ship air wake encountered by a helicopter landing on the rear of a moving model warship. The research will assist naval architects to design and build ships that are more helicopter-friendly. Much of the purpose-built test rig for the instrument is made from HepcoMotion stainless steel linear and rotary elements.

While most manufacturers make provision for corrosion resistance as an option, HepcoMotion goes one important step further; it provides this choice within its standard range. This enabled the University of Liverpool to select a range of stainless steel products from HepcoMotion, including a large ring bearing that did not carry a 'special' price tag or require a long lead time.

Project Engineer John Curran explains the need for the project: "It is very time-consuming, dangerous and expensive to fly a helicopter and land it on a moving ship And it is essential to be able to measure the effect of the ship geometry on the helicopter at the design stage."

By employing the purpose-designed instrument in tandem with other research being undertaken on site, the University's design team can input the data into its flight simulators. Curran continues: "A test pilot can then try out our ship modifications in safety and experience the effect of design changes very quickly."

Stainless steel products

The products supplied by HepcoMotion for the test rig were a PRT Precision Ring Track, an HD Heavy-Duty linear slide and beam and a Lo-Pro low-profile linear slide. All were specified as stainless steel units to withstand the ingress of water. The framework was also from HepcoMotion, being the company's MCS system. These products together enabled the designers to alter the attack angle of the model ship and helicopter in relation to the wind direction.

Housed within the scale model of the helicopter, the instrument measures the forces exerted on the rotors and body in real time as the model reacts to the varying air wake. An important element of the supporting rig is that it enables the relative positions of the ship and the helicopter to be repeated accurately so that quick and precise measurements can be taken.

The ring bearing effectively won HepcoMotion this contract, as the company was the only supplier able to meet the University's needs in terms of size, material and price. To ensure commonality of all the other products, they were also sourced from HepcoMotion.

Curran concludes: "The repeatability and accuracy we needed were well within the capability of these products. The main criterion for us was the ready availability of stainless steel products from HepcoMotion. Their stiffness was also a factor in our choice, as, for measurement accuracy, it is very important that any vibration should be minimised."

Contact HepcoMotion for more information about stainless steel components for building machines, specialist instrumentation and test rigs.

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