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"Endorphin" Roadster designed and built by Todd Hughes of Mason Hughes, Melbourne, Australia.

Carving a niche in the tough world of car manufacture, Aussie Todd Hughes has produced the revolutionary 'Endorphin' sports car. A two-seater formula one car for road use, this vehicle blazes new trails to offer the ultimate performance experience.

After completing an engineering degree at Melbourne University followed by three years working for elite car companies in the U.K. such as 'Reynard Racing Cars', Todd Hughes returned to Australia to work on engine development for AU model Falcon for the Ford Motor Company. Experience in both high and low volume car manufacture techniques allowed Hughes to aim manufacturing volumes at an 'in between' level with his own concept sports car.

By the time Hughes approached other companies for support, they were more than willing to assist, providing time, materials and services to realize the dream. Their enthusiasm due in no small part to Hughes' obvious dedication to the project with and all the completed ground work as solid evidence to support his goals.

When designing a sports car, weight, power, handling, cost and aesthetics need to be considered. The concept of 'Endorphin' can be paralleled to a high performance motorcycle, because it is not fitted with luxury items, has exposed engineering and is used for the 'perfomance' experience. The endorphin car is a real power machine. It is 150kg lighter than a Lotus Elite, but delivers twice the horse power.

Shaded Endorphin surface model in CADKEY.

Endorphin features a closed section aluminium honeycomb tortional cell down the center of the car. The passengers are held either side of the central section in extruded aluminium cells. The third chassis member is the transaxle, bolted directly to the rear suspension. The suspension is all in-board and operated by pushrods and a system of bell cranks. The brake calipers are CNC-machined from solid aluminium billet. The cross-drilled, ventilated brake rotors float on aluminium disc bells. The car has a flat floor with rear diffusers to generate the all-important down force. Constructed in composite materials, the body work is designed to aid aerodynamics whilst remaining aesthetically pleasing.

The product development cycle entailed conceptual design occurring parallel with the selection of hardware such as transmission, uprights, wheels, engine and the cooling system. Then Hughes went into the fine detail design, such as the chassis suspension. The concept prototype was then tested to make sure everything was viable and operational. Clay model styling was initiated and reverse engineered into CADKEY and surface modeled in FastSURF.

Darren Boxall, an Industrial Design graduate from RMIT and manager of the design department at Specialised Technical Services, entered the project at the clay model stage. Boxall's involvement was to clean up the clay model and digitize the model using the microscribe 3DX arm and 'STS Digitize' Reverse Engineering software. STS digitize is a CADKEY CDE (CH) program that allows you to take data directly from the microscribe arm, straight into CADKEY. Data can enter CADKEY as: points, splines, polylines, etc. Boxall also used FastSURF 98 with open GL shaded rendering to help evaluate the surface quality as he was smoothing and assembling them. "FastSURF excelled in this project" Boxall said " the open GL shaded display where you can actually rotate your smooth shaded model in FastSURF was an awesome new feature which I'm sure will be a huge advantage over the next few years. STS Digitize, which interfaces the digitizing hardware and CADKEY, is a great tool and actually speeds the process of capturing information and converting it into CAD entities." Boxall said.

The body of the car was detailed in CAD so that the surface data could be used to NC machine the body for the car and basically rapid prototype a large scale object. 'NC Matic' was used for this CAM process. 'NC Matic' is a shop floor program (SFP) which means the CNC machine operator can use it with ease. For example, this was Boxall's first experience with 'NC Matic' and he learnt the program in one day to produce a perfect finish on machining the body. The model went from a 1/5th size scale model up to a full scale in two weeks, which is very impressive.

Rendering of 'Endorphin' created with CADKEY.

One of the largest problems was adapting the rear suspension to another manufacturers transmission. Eventually they hope to cast transmissions locally to save cost and weight. A CAD system was not available to Todd originally so another stumbling block was the fact that the chassis was designed before the introduction of CADKEY. (It was designed on the drawing board). "When we did the body work on CADKEY it would have been the perfect opportunity to design the chassis to fit the body shells." Hughes said, "On the next project, we will start the chassis on CADKEY. Then the whole package will work as a complete assembly."

After encouraging feedback at the Melbourne International Motor Show, Hughes and Boxall will begin work on production intent prototypes. They have a running prototype which has proven successful and design for manufacture is currently being undertaken. Hughes hopes to have the car registered on Australian roads very soon and then begin export to Asia, Europe and perhaps the U.S. 'Endorphin' will be priced at around $60,000.

"I honestly feel that the mass production market is so well catered for and overproduction already exists. It would be foolish for me to compete at this level." Hughes said.

"In Australia we innovate and make low volume manufacture and flexible manufacture. We have access to the Asia Pacific region with influences from both Europe and the U.S. That puts us in a great position and even though we are geographically isolated, information technology breaks down the distance barriers."

Major supporters such as STS, Hardman Brothers, PPG Industries, Advanced Engine Management, BH Group and R.F Services, need to be thanked. Particular thanks to Barry Dyson for his advanced skills in Reverse Engineering, CAD & CAM and Darren Boxall for his CAD skills, knowledge of composites and dedication to the task.

Specialised Technical Services Pty Ltd
Specialised Technical Services P/L
CAD CAM Solutions, Training and Support for Mechanical Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Industry
45 Fairway Drive, DROUIN VIC 3818, Australia
Tel: +613 5625 5200

Mob: 0416 188 479
Email: cadcam@sts.com.au