Creating CorkSport Parts with 3D Scanning

While creating a new CorkSport part, we sometimes run into issues where calipers, bore gauges, and angle finders are simply not enough to get the measurements we need.  We’ve discussed how we use 3D printing in a previous blog, but today I thought I’d go over the opposite: 3D scanning.

Where 3D printing takes a CAD design from computer to physical part, 3D scanning takes a physical part and converts it into a computerized model. This is especially useful for things like intercooler piping, intake design, and even creating exterior body parts. What these components all have in common is that they are a complex, difficult to measure, shape where fitment is critical. Check out the 3D scan below from the development of our GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3 front lip. While not a perfect replica, this 3D scan information was vital for designing the CS front lip to ensure great fitment and stylish look.

At CorkSport, we do have a small 3D measuring arm that can take measurements of 3D objects and input them directly into a CAD program. The arm does this by first having a “home” position established that the arm can measure from. Then as the arm is moved around, it knows how far the tip of the arm is from the home position in x, y, and z coordinates. This is a very basic form of 3D measurement as the arm must actually touch the surfaces of the part. Mostly simple information like mounting surface locations, angles, and hole sizes can result from this arm. While not a full 3D scan, it is especially useful for things like the GEN3 Transmission Motor Mount that have mounting planes at different angles.

For intercooler piping with completely round surfaces and bends, CorkSport’s 3D measuring arm has its limitations. We typically get a full 3D scan performed on the OEM piping to give us solid locations and a great visual reference to design from. The 3D scanning arm bounces a laser off the part to determine its shape and size. Then, software that accompanies the 3D scanner stitches all the information together into a full 3D CAD model. The scans achieve great accuracy; check out the embossed writing and even texture on this OEM intercooler piping for the SkyActiv 2.5T.

From this point, we design the new CorkSport parts. In terms of intercooler piping, we analyze where the larger piping will fit to get the performance gains we want. In some cases, we can also simplify the pipe routing to get smoother airflow than the OEM piping. Having a full OEM piping scan makes this much easier as we can easily double check our measurements with the OEM parts on the car. As a result, our first 3D print can often be the final version before having metal parts made. An early design for an upgraded Mazda 6 SkyActiv 2.5T hot pipe is shown below (blue) with the OEM part scan (gray). The routing was carefully chosen to achieve our desired piping size within the constraints of the OEM engine bay.

 

3D scanning has a huge range of uses and we are just beginning to explore the full capabilities. Be sure to share your ideas on how we should use this technology and what new CS parts we should make with 3D scanning’s help!

-Daniel

An Inside Look at CorkSport R&D

All CorkSport products go through an extensive process to ensure they are the best fitting, looking and performing parts that they can be. As a product development engineer, I see all of these steps on a day-to-day basis, but we don’t often talk about how an idea evolves into a CorkSport part.  Sit back and read on as I give you a glimpse of what goes on during CorkSport R&D.

Concept and Planning

All parts start out as an idea. They come from many sources: employees, forums, car shows.  One of our biggest sources of ideas is YOU! Check out the blog on submitting product ideas for more info on how our customers give us their thoughts.

At the beginning of each quarter, all product ideas are evaluated to determine which are feasible and which are going to be pursued moving forward. After the extensive list is narrowed down, they go into a more in-depth evaluation.

This includes defining the scope of the project, how many man hours it is expected to take, evaluating all expected costs of production, and setting a retail price. Without this evaluation, we would encounter all sorts of roadblocks along the way that would delay getting parts out to you all. If everything is looking good, the project is approved and moves forward.

R&D Begins

At this stage, it’s time to get our hands dirty (literally in some cases). First, we investigate the car the part is for and the scope of the project to understand exactly what the goal of the part is. Doing this allows us to find all design constraints and look for things we may not be expecting. Replacement part diagrams and factory service manuals can be vital here, especially if we do not have a Mazda or Mazdaspeed readily accessible.

By now we usually have a good idea of what features we want the part to have and can move forward with creating an “MVP”. A minimum viable product is just what it sounds like. Not necessarily pretty or optimized yet but good enough to get to see if an idea will work and to check fitment. During MVP creation we have to consider all design constraints, desired features, integration with other CS parts, and even how to manufacture the part. Check out the changes below from an early MVP to the final design for our GEN3 TMM.

If the part can be 3D printed, we print the initial MVP and test fit. Test fits are by far the most unpredictable part of the whole process as sometimes we discover an issue that can change an entire design. Depending on the part, we can have one test fit and be good to go or four and still have work to do. Once we have revised the MVP to a point where it fits well, looks good, and can be manufactured relatively easily, a functional prototype is produced.

Functional Prototypes

This is where the fun really begins; test fitting is a 3D print is one thing, having the part made out of metal is a whole new story. Depending on the part, we sometimes have to skip directly to this stage as it cannot be easily printed in-house. We always have to be careful doing so to limit the number of expensive prototypes we have made. Sometimes this goes well, other times not so much… This swaybar prototype was limiting suspension travel.

A functional prototype also allows for any testing that we may do. Whether it be on the dyno, track, or on the street, all CorkSport parts are used and abused to ensure they hold up to what you can throw at them. Check out an early CS Throttle Body getting tested on a flow bench.

If we are happy with a prototype, this is where you all can get involved again. We often use “Beta Testers” to get another opinion on the part and to see if they come across any issues. From here we sometimes have revisions that need to be made and another prototype produced but ideally, we are ready to move on.

Manufacture & Prep for Release

From here we move to getting the parts made. Sometimes this is a process that only takes a few weeks, other times it takes many months to complete. The manufacturing method, type of part, and order quantity play a big role here. Additionally, some products have a lot of different parts to make up a whole CS product, so each individual part takes time. Sometimes, we even get to see something unexpected, like these Command Wheel Covers before getting anodized black.

While all of this is going on, we are also preparing the product for release. That way, when our manufactured parts show up, we are ready to send them out to all of you. Installation instructions are created, QA checks are set up, laser etch files are set up, product images and video are taken, the web page listing is set up, and so on. Any and all of the content you see on a product is all created in-house. Engineering school definitely did not prepare me for shooting high-quality photos and video!

Check out a “behind the scenes” look at one of our videos:

At this point, we are pretty much ready to bring the new CorkSport Mazda or Mazdaspeed part out to you all. Throughout this process, we are constantly thinking about the experience someone has when they buy the part to ensure it is something that we would be proud to have on our own cars. After all, we build our dream cars using CS parts just like you do!

-Daniel

Mazda’s Game Changer

Recent news has been circulating about the new Mazda and Toyota joint production plant and what will be built there.  In a few news articles, Masamichi Kogai has been quoted saying Mazda will introduce a new and different type of CUV (crossover utility vehicle).

I have been thinking about that statement about a new and different type SUV. Looking in the marketplace, you have pretty much everything out there in size, shape, and quality.  I think there is something which is getting lost in the translation of this message.

My bet is it will be something totally new for Mazda.  

Back in 2015, Mazda showed off the Koeru concept which was hinting to future models of crossover SUVs.

Looking at the current styling and the concept cars Mazda has laid out at the Tokyo Auto Show with the Mazda 3 Kai concept this year.

The front end styling has been sharpened on this concept car, but it isn’t too far outside of what Mazda is currently offering. The changed roofline at the rear points is designed to maximize cargo space, but in a good-looking package.

I will go out on a limb and guess that Mazda is probably working on a new motor to power whatever the upcoming CUV is going to be.

The most powerful motor Mazda offers right now is the 2.5 Skyactiv turbo engine, which powers the Cx-9 and soon to be offered in the Mazda 6. This motor is based on the older Skyactiv tech though, and with Masamichi saying the new vehicle will something new, my guess is that we should expect to see another tech marvel being produced.

The last thought I have on this with Mazda is this:

If they’re coming out with something new, we may see a large-sized vehicle to go up against the truck-based SUVs from other manufacturers. It is a direction Mazda has not gone before and lines up with the statements they are giving us.

Time will tell!

-Derrick

CorkSport BIG Turbo

Mazdaspeed 3 big turbo upgrade

Good day boosted enthusiast!

We wanted to take some time to give you all a quick update on one of the many projects we have brewing up here at CorkSport Headquarters.

The project I’m referencing, in general, is our 2nd turbocharger upgrade for the Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6 and CX-7. This unit is a substantial upgrade over our current 18G turbocharger. This Turbo will cater to those looking to take their performance and power goals to a higher level.

Not only will it be capable of putting you well into the 465whp range but this CorkSport Turbo upgrade will be able to do it without giving up on reliability and throttle response.  

It will be very beneficial to those who have mildly-built blocks and a supporting fuel system that will allow them to get higher in the HP range.

So, let’s talk about some of the features you can expect on the upgrade and why we decided to utilize them.

 

 

Let’s start at the heart of the Turbocharger.

The new CorkSport turbo will take full use of a GTX3076R center housing and rotating assembly (CHRA). The unit is equipped with a fully sealed ball bearing cartridge, which is a nice upgrade when compared to a standard journal bearing unit. We chose to go with a ball bearing unit for a few reasons.

  1. The enclosed design of a ball bearing system allows us to eliminate the need for a thrust bearing, which can account for about 40% of the bearing system drag on the turbos rotor assembly.
  2. Ball bearings reduce the viscous drag, which allows a ball bearing unit the ability to spool up about 15% faster than its journal bearing equivalent.

The next thing you will notice on the new Mazdaspeed Turbocharger upgrade is the holes that are drilled into the compressor cover. These little holes are known as anti-surge ports and are intended to expand the turbochargers compressor map. The ports function to move the surge line further left on the compressor map which gives the Mazdaspeed turbo some more headroom before it falls out of its efficiency island. Anti-surge ports are becoming increasingly more popular in modern performance turbochargers and with great reason. They offer some unique benefits as mentioned and will be fully integrated into our unit.

 

Last but not least, as with our CorkSport Turbo, this bigger Mazdaspeed Turbo will once-again be a true drop-in unit; minus the 4” compressor inlet.

There will be no cutting, modifying, sourcing oil and coolant lines, running to the store to buy couplers, etc. This unit will come with everything you need to have a trouble-free install. As with the current CorkSport 18G turbocharger, the new Garrett-based design will come with all studs, gaskets, washers, and knowledge that you need to have a nice weekend install.

So keep your eyes peeled as we get closer to delivering more performance for the Mazda community!

– The CorkSport Team

 

SOURCES: Miller, Jay K. Turbo: Real World High-Performance Turbocharger Systems. CarTech, 2008.

 

Kill The Nannies

Nannies. One thing we have discovered while racing our Mazda 3 is that the OEM safety systems in the newest generation of Mazda 3 work well, too well in fact for racing.

Each year, new safety features are added by Mazda which make the cars safer and reduces the risk of collisions. This is great for day to day driving and commuting, but it presents a problem if you plan to take your car to the track to race it.

The OEM system in the car really frowns on lifting a rear tire off the ground, or when you get wheel spin accelerating out of a slow speed corner. They design the cars against these things happening for safety purposes (understandably). However, Mazda does give you a button on your dash to turn off the traction control. This gets us racers around the limitations to a certain degree.

Let me explain:

When you disengage traction control, the system which measures yaw/pitch and ensures your car has all the wheels on the ground is actually still working, even with the button off. What the button does essentially is give you a sort of leash with more leeway, until the computer thinks you have gone too far of course, then it will kick in traction control again.

So, how do we get past these nanny systems so we can push our cars for maximum performance?

Can you simply unplug the computer which controls the this? I wish it were that simple, but you cannot. The systems in the car are all tied to each other, and the car may not start, it may not run safely, or it may run in a limp mode. A good example of this in our 2015 Mazda3 is: if you unplug the rear view mirror the car won’t start. The ABS is also controlled by the same unit, and this is very handy to have on the track.  The ABS is very good in the Mazda3 by the way, so I recommend you keep it.

The solution we’ve come up with at CorkSport is pretty simple: Leave the computer plugged in and turn it over.

That’s it, simple, nothing else is required. What happens when you turn the computer upside down is the computer loses its physical reference point, so it defaults by turning off the stability control and nannies, but most-importantly, the ABS still functions.

A big word of caution: The computer which controls the nannies also runs the airbags. If you race your car on the track, the airbags will have been removed from your car already. DO NOT drive your airbag-equipped car with the module flipped over.

The reason this solution works for the track is that our Mazda 3 race car has additional safety equipment installed, with the 6-point harness and halo seat, along with the rest of the driver’s safety gear, that keep you from injury in the event of any wrecks.

FYI: When using this “hack”, your Mazda 3 dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree from all of the warnings; but that is a small price to pay for the improved performance while racing.

–Derrick

DISCLAIMER: This modification is for racing purposes ONLY. Doing so will render many of your car’s safety systems ineffective. Installing other safety systems after this modification is essential.