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'Plateau' or 'snub-nose' profiles

afford cam designers the chance

to increase valve time area whel'l!
total lift is restricted
Software advances, new
manufacturing techniques and
developments in production
engine valvetrain
architecture are pushing
forward the frontiers of
cam design
osworth's B014
and Iskenderian's
505 Magnum are
both legendary cam
profiles from the
1960s, but they represent two
very different methods of cam
design, While the British cams
were created using traditional
know how, experience and
solid testing data, American
Ed Iskenderian was pioneering
the use of computers in
profile design, He was clearly
a man of foresight. because
more recently that trend has
gathered pace across a variety
of cam driven
by computational advances in
both design and production,
In turn, this has allowed the
development of ever more
advanced cam profiles, aimed
at exploiting the increasingly
exotic valvetrain arrangements
of contemporary road-based
engines, producing previously
unthinkable solutions,
But what. if any,
advantages have these new
computer powered design and
. ". www,racecar-engineering,com' October 2007
manufacturing techniques
delivered to motorsport users,
and how will this shape cam
designs in the future? To find out,
we interviewed designers from
three of the experts in the field
- Kent Cams and Piper Cams from
the UK, as well as Belgian profile
manufacturer Cat Cams,
Recent years has seen the
widespread move to roller tappet
or rocker arm valvetrain systems
for road-car engines, including
offerings from BMW, Citroenl
Peugeot and Honda, principally to
improve emissions, 'The only way
that you're going to achieve a low
opening period with the valve
area you need to make enough
power is with a roller rocker or
a radius tappet design: says
Kent Cams' Andy Burns, A low
valve-opening period - otherwise
described as a short duration
- helps reduce hydrocarbons
and other pollutants, hence
why global car companies are
increasingly favouring such
layouts, Roller rockers or radius
tappet designs also offer
frictional loss benefits over a
conventional flat tappet design,
again making a positive argument
for their wholesale adoption in
road engines,
Additionally, these roller
rocker or radius tappet designs
lend themselves more readily
to variable valve timing
arrangements, such as Honda's
I-VTEC system and BMW's
Valvetronic technologies, Given
the performance and emissions
benefits attainable from these
variable valve timing systems,
it's perhaps logical to assume
that the conventional flat tappet
valvetrain design's days are
numbered, And that could be
seen as a positive development
for motorsport, because it also
opens up opportunities for
cam designers that are already
starting to yield real benefits for
motorsport engine builders,
The process begins with cam
design software, Interestingly,
Kent and Piper both use different
versions of Lotus Engineering's
Concept Valvetrain program,
which allows cam designers
to simulate and micro manage
almost very aspect of the process
before any metal is cut. This
includes valve spring and rocker
motion, which is then fed back
into the design data. 'The Lotus
software will output a lift table
down to six minute steps and
then you just input that data into
our CNC machine and it'll grind
the shape: explains Burns of Kent
Cams' methods, honed through
five year's use of the Lotus
package. Similarly, Piper's John
Crabb enthuses: 'The software
enables us to generate a curve
easily, as we can generate a
valve acceleration curve with the
mouse in real time and change it
graphically, so you can actually
move the lift curve around. This
way you can do your basic profile
design and then manipulate it
graphically afterwards:
By marked contrast, Ken
Stessens of Cat Cams writes his
own cam design software - a
process that began while he was
Ill' profiles
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earea where
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Burns of Kent
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>jper's John
'ate acurve
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Inipulate it
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ftware - a
While he was
Manual cam grinding still has its place, but CNC cam production is increasingly the norm with today's manufacturers
still a part-time researcher at
the University of Leuven (KUL)
- then continued after joining
the company full time in 2000.
'Oepending on the kinematic
and dynamic properties of
the valvetrain, a valve motion
requires typical constraints in
different areas. For that reason
we developed a set of dedicated
calculation routines for each
section of the cam profile. All
of these constraints are taken
care of in the initial calculations,
so there is no need for any
kind of tweaking afterwards.
Obviously, joining the sections
with high order continuity needs
special care to be taken to the
boundaries. So this method is
pretty much the hard way, but
and consistently is a challenge,
requiring bespoke cam production
methods to achieve the desired
results. Specifically, that
means utilising smaller than
conventional grinding wheels,
often requiring investment in
new machinery to suit. 'If we're
looking at a 35mm negative
radius you need to use a CNC cam
grinder, such as our Landis 3L
with a CBN (carbon boron nitride)
grinding wheel. With a small
wheel your pressure loadings get
very high and the CBN is the only
way to cope. It's like a diamond:
explains Crabb.
Similarly, this new vogue
of negative radius profiles has
ushered in machinery changes
at Kent Cams, as Burns explains:
'The smallest diameter wheel
that our manual grinding
machines used to take was
125mm, but the best we could
achieve with that was a 70mm
radius, So we went with Shout
of Germany, as it was the only
company that could offer a
70mm CBN wheel on its new
CNC grinder. That enables us to
grind a 37mm radius, and it's
the size of wheel the likes of
Ilmor and Cosworth use.. : Cat
Cams also has the ability to
grind its negative radius profiles
in-house, but chooses to do it
on a manual machine instead.
'After the design is completed,
an in-house postprocessor feeds
the CNC master cam generator. It
will automatically compensate for
the grinder's specific geometry
to achieve the best possible
accuracy: explains Stessens. And
judging by the company's track
record in this area, this appears
more than sufficient in the 'real
world' environment.
One of the more interesting side
effects of the FIA's decision
to utilise valve lift restrictions
for Super 2000 Touring Car
racing, for example, is how
solutions developed in this field
are beginning to trickle down
into cam profiles destined for
other motorsport disciplines. An
example of this is the so-called
dd Producing negative radius
profiles reliably and consistently
is a challenge PP
October 2007 l1li
A typical negative radius
cam profile - designed
to maximise lift with a
radius tappet set up
the final result outperforms any
other design method, especially
graphical editing software:
Increasingly, 'the best result' for
the new vogue of production
roller rocker/radius tappet
engines will incorporate an
opening flank using a negative
angle. 'The real thrust as far as
new design is concerned will be
inverse flank profiles that run
against a radius tappet: says
Burns. 'With a roller rocker engine,
such as the Honda K20, you can
achieve very high area under
the lift curve because you've
got that roller, while maintaining
relatively low valve opening
periods: And Piper's John Crabb
agrees: 'Negative radius profiles
have been around for some time
now. Generally, on a roller rocker
engine the more valve lift you
want to run, the more negative
radius is required on the cam:
And that's something
Stessens knows all about as he
has been designing negative
radius profiles for over five
years now, including those
used in James Kaye's victorious
Independent Class BTCC Honda
in 2002. 'About all of our road
profiles for roller rocker engines,
including those on the Renault
Clio F4R engine, use negative
radius designs: he states.
While this development
sounds easy on paper, producing
negative radius profiles reliably
Accurate, computer-linked
proflle analysis assists greatly
in maximising cam profile
High performance surface coating
technologies, such as Piper Cam's
'super finishing' service (below)
are now Increasingly used in
motorsport applications
'snub-nosed' or 'plateau' profiles number of variables into account, valvetrain is only half the successfully started using 'flat
that have recently started to including 'jerk' - the rate of story, because the new wave nose' cam profiles in 1999
appear. The idea here is to change of valve acceleration. of 'plateau' profiles require for engines with a flat tappet
maximise the total valve time 'You'd have no valve acceleration attention by designers to ensure follower set up, then applied it
area on the profile by opening at all: Burns explains, 'then that the valve is decelerated to the more critical roller rocker
the valve rapidly to maximum suddenly massive amounts of properly after it ramps up to powerplants, like the Honda
lift, holding it there for as long as acceleration in the initial portion fUlly open. 'There is more to the K20. Latterly, this technology is
possible and then closing it very of the cam cycle and you'd have design of a 'flat nose' profile than even used in some of our sports
quickly. 'You need to generate to run relatively high spring just cutting a conventional profile cams running trouble free on
valve time area to get the power: loadings to control that: Detailed and pasting a dwell section in factory valve springs: Stessens
says Crabb. 'It's not an advantage design in this crucial area of cam between: explains Stessens. 'It's summarises. Yet incredibly,
to go for duration if your rev limit profiling can mitigate against vital to have all the transitions in there's a cutting edge school of
is only, say, 8500rpm. In the old the worst effects although, as the acceleration curve as smooth thought that actually welcomes
Super Touring days we'd run a Stessens explains, 'analysing a as possible and match this to the this problem, exploiting the
profile with 15.24mm (600thou) mass spring system shows that available spring load: phenomenon to extract more
of lift with 272 degrees of the transitional dynamic force, This 'zero lift' or 'dwell' area lift than theoretically possible
period. Today, with the Super resulting from with a conventional
2000 regulations, you're looking a discontinuity It's vital to have all profile. Known as
at 11 mm (433thou) lift with in the jerk, 'launcher' cams, they
thE! transitions in the
more period of 288 degrees, but is inversely effectively use the
we're getting the required area proportional to
acceleration curVE! as
lobe's opening ramp
by using the plateau: But with the system's to propel the valve
smoDth as pDssible PP
these designs, as Burns explains, natural frequency. open into a floating
'you end up with a cam that looks So a high order state once at full lift,
like it's got a flat top, to achieve valve acceleration is extremely of the plateau is something enabling fractional lift gains in
a large amount of area under the important, particularly in a rocker of a challenge, but one where formulae where small advantages
lift curve: In practice, this can arm or pushrod engine, as these the recent developments are crucial, namely NASCAR and
produce a cam profile with ample layouts have a lower valvetrain in software combine with Super 2000. 'We've done that for
power producing valve time area, stiffness and hence a lower experience to produce the a little while now, but it's difficult
available without having to resort natural frequency: desired effect, culminating to get right, so that you launch
to high engine speeds, with in a valve deceleration that the valve in the right place
obvious benefits on driveability. OUERTHETOP avoids overstressing the around the TOC mark. You can get
Again, it sounds simple on However, successfully opening springs, which potentially O.64mm (25thou) extra lift this
paper, but the detail area of the valve as rapidly as possible could cause valve 'float' and way, but it's not very good for
the profile design has to take a within the constraints of the other undesired effects. 'We the valvetrain; says Crabb. October 2007
When it comes to advances in
cam design, increasing valvetrain
loadings to realise performance
gains is par for tfle course.
But increased loadings mean
increased component wear
rates, potentially precluding the
plateau-style cam designs from
being adopted on power units
witln flat tappet
thin film of engine oil to break
down, with potentially disastrous
results for component life.
Pleasingly though, there is
now a solution, that again has
filtered down from the echelons
of Fl into the broader motorsport
arena, namely Diamond Like
Coating (OLC). 'This wear issue
is now countered by OLe: Burns
media to achieve the desired
result. 'It also reduces stresses in
the component and helps reduce
wear on high lift, short-period
profiles: says Crabb of Piper's in
house super finishing process. It's
expensive (currently around E30
($60) per follower), but prices
are starting to come down. Add
on the cost of the OLC coating
(typically E20
valvetrains, such ($40) per flat
If yeu want the ultimate
as the current tappet or E100
Ford Ouratec
fer perfermance and
($200) for
reliability. DLe: is new the
a camshaft
engine. 'If you
benchmark precess
have a cam which
would stay at
the maximum lift for as long as
you can mechanically achieve it
you have almost a single point
of contact on the tappet, but
that does create wear issues:
says Burns. Combine this with
the frequent need to use valve
springs with higher loadings to
accommodate the 'jerk' on the
profile and this all adds up to
increased pressures between the
camshaft and the cam follower.
Ultimately, this can cause the
explains, 'which is being applied
to cam followers, tappets and
also to camshafts to avoid
failures and reduce potential
scuffing. It requires the parts to
be 'super finished' first because
if there are any deviations in the
surface finish it won't take: Super
finishing is another technology
from the Fl arena and involves
placing the relevant components
in a 'rumbler' for eight hours,
using a grinding paste-style
Diamond Like Coating (DlC) on this cam follower (left) helps minimise the
chance of scuff when an aggressive cam profile is used...
according to
Burns) and the
whole process
isn't cheap, but if you want
the ultimate for performance
and reliability, this is now the
benchmark process.
Perhaps some of the most
exciting developments in
camshaft technology in recent
years are the new CNC grinding
techniques entering the market
enabling cam manufacturers
to realise detail improvements
in concert with advances in
CAD design and simulation. For
example, Kent Cam's new Shout
CNC grinder is already yielding
gains through its ability to
achieve fine tolerances. 'We're
still getting to grips with it:
says Burns, 'but already we're
using it in ways we never even
thought of. We can now achieve
a tolerance of just five microns
down the length of a camshaft
and the machine allows us to
correct to half a micron: Typically,
a manual cam-grinding machine
would be hard pressed to hold
a tolerance of 12.5microns.
Though it was a big investment
this leap forward in accuracy has
been a necessary one, explains
Burns: 'Our customers demand a
lobe accuracy within 15microns
and angular accuracy within six
minutes, which is really tight
plus the CNC grinder produces a
superior surface finish far quicker
than on a manual machine. In
one operation you can rough and
finish, which also eliminates the
need for polishing:
Burns confirms that the
...especially when the cam is subject to the same treatment.
Current cost is around 100 ($200) to have a camshaft coated
October 2007 .
Free Hel
Free Hel
Andy Burns
+44 1303 248666
Ken Stessens
John Crabb
+44 1303 245300
Inside view of Kent Cams' Shout CNC cam grinding machine

cams are now being re-designed
using the Lotus Engineering
software to optimise the valve
lift area, There are some subtle
differences in the end of ramp
and peak lift figures to increase
the area under the lift curve, plus
it's the accuracy and consistency
of the CNC grinding - you're now
getting all those elements joined
together, and you're seeing it
consistently, so we're optimistic:
So is this rush for silicon chip
powered solutions universally
a good thing? Piper's John
Crabb thinks so: 'Computers are
influencing cam design a lot now,
We're designing virtual cams and
customers can now run them in
their engine simulation programs:
Computers haven't entirely
rendered old-fashioned testing
obsolete though, Crabb admitting
'we still have the flow bench for
validating data: Likewise, Cat
Cam's Stessens also sounds a
philosophical note of caution at
embracing the world of virtual
Kent Cams' new Shout CNC cam
grinder Is accurate to five microns
along a camshaft's length
upshot of this increased accuracy
has already fed back into Kent's
design process, and the most
obvious beneficiaries are the
company's Group N customers,
who desire 'maximum tolerance'
camshafts, 'Our Group N
customers say they want to be
within half a thou of the top
tolerance and we say we can
now get within two microns if we
want to! But we go to half a thou
for safety, just in case:
Enticingly, it's the combination
of these new CNC production
techniques, allied to established
engineering software, that
could have the biggest long
term impact indicating how
the performance cams industry
may evolve over the next few
years, Like everything these
days, incremental gains can
be had through small detail
improvements, 'Our production
capability has now met our
design capability head on: says
Burns, 'Our generic catalogue
Piper Cam's John Crabb undertakes
detailed profile analysis October 2007
cams at the expense of a more
hands-on approach to design
and testing: 'Sometimes you
just need to take a step back to
common-sense methods, or you'll
end up with an expensive race
engine as a tool for optimising
a computer engine model. The
trap of the virtual world is that
it won't create new ideas itself,
In the best case it will provide a
brilliant illumination for real
world testing, in the worst it will
just kill it:
Which means for all its recent
computational advances, it seems
that the future of cam design
will still also require good old
fashioned human experience for
problem solving, a combination
of which the godfather of cam
design Ed Iskenderian would
almost certainly approve, 0