Under-exaggerating his industry experience in his confident British accent, Clayton Triggs, business developer at Swift Engineering, says “I have a long history in motorsport.” What Triggs doesn’t mention is that he has over 15 years of motorsport experience and has worked with multiple racing series such as IndyCar, NASCAR, ALMS and others. Triggs joined the Swift Engineering team to help the composites company increase its presence in the racing industry.
How did you get involved in composite manufacturing?
I’ve been involved in the motorsport industry for quite a long time. Working with Swift Engineering has been a tremendous experience to see new composite technology like the silicone tooling recently used for the Formula Nippon Series. I’ve learned more about other composite markets these past few years since Swift started investing in the aerospace industry, which is now our predominate business sector.
How did Swift start working with the Formula Nippon Series?
We bid for the Nippon series against other companies that are similar to our company. Our advantage is that we have a 28 year history in designing and manufacturing race cars. We raced our first Nippon series cars in 2009 and now supply parts for all the cars for the series.
What was the main success of the recent Nippon project and how was that achieved?
Swift was able to produce 40 cars in 32 weeks for the Formula Nippon Series. From business development side, we were successful in creating an aerodynamic and aesthetic design that incorporated unique styling elements for the composite front wings. For manufacturers to design projects that function well and look pleasing is a complicated task, but it’s definitely an extremely important design function.
For instance, sometimes a part can be calculated to function better than another wing of but if it looks terrible then, let’s be honest, nobody is going to buy it. Nippon wanted to redesign structural parts to give the cars a new iconic look but also to maintain its key component to control the down force of the car, which we did very well.
Where did Swift get the idea to use silicone inserts in a mold instead of autoclave?
We are fortunate that we have a strong relationship with Advanced Composite Group (ACG) in Tulsa, Okla. Swift worked closely with ACG to find an effective solution to save time, increase productivity but also save race teams cost. They brought up the idea of using the silicone tooling and we had designed using a similar technique before in the Formula Atlantic racing series.
What is unique about the manufacturing process?
As far as processes go, the silicone wrapped tools have significantly evolved over time. In most cases, composite processes from aerospace are typically modified to use in the racing industry. In this case, it’s the inverse. Trap tooling was something we pioneered in the race car market that we’re now moving to aerospace and adapting the process to fit NADCAP standards. We’re learning more about this process everyday and working to bring new processes like this to production cars to lower manufacturing costs.