The Spanish have a special relationship with motorsports, in particular MotoGP – the pinnacle of professional motorcycle racing. Almost all the top riders come from Spain, with the exception of a few Italians, such as the very notable Valentino Rossi. What they all have in common, though, is a 3-axis race bike simulator developed and built by Haas ST-30Y user, Mecanitzats Muntada, in Barcelona. They use the simulator for indoor training, and to maintain familiarity with some of the world’s greatest race circuits. Joaquim Muntada, owner of the simulator, said: I worked in a machine shop from 14 years old. I did two years of vocational training, and at 16, I worked in a plastic injection moulding business. However, essentially, I’m self-taught. Although I enjoyed my work, my true passion was rallying, as a co-driver and navigator. I competed and won several big competitions, including the Spanish national championships.
The machine tools
It was my interest in motorsport that brought Haas to my attention – through the company’s involvement in NASCAR. We only have one Haas machine – an ST-30Y turning centre with motorized tools and Y axis, but it has made a big difference to our activities. Most of our current work is small runs of complex parts for the food, pharmaceutical, and aeronautic sectors. We make a lot of moulds and dies, and a few parts for motorsport, including some for rally teams, as well as housings for the gyro-stabilized video cameras mounted on the rear of MotoGP bikes. The main reason we bought the Haas was to reduce the number of setups for any particular part. We tend to machine small batches, so reducing set-up times is vital. We’re currently using the Haas machine to make parts of a pump for ingredient dosage measurers used in food production. The tolerances are tight, and we’re only making thirteen-off, but the material is Inox 316 stainless steel. The ST-30Y is a very rigid machine – there’s no vibration, unlike the machines we used previously. Once the part is tempered, it’s re-machined and finished. The Haas live tools provide high-torque cutting for off-centre milling, drilling, and tapping. There’s more than 100 mm of Y-axis travel, which gives us a lot of flexibility. The ST-30Y has allowed us to develop and make a much better version of the lateral movement coupling for the on-board MotoGP camera. The camera tilts as the bike leans, so the image is always horizontal, which gives viewers a great feel for the angles through corners. Aside from the machine’s spec, it’s obvious to me that it’s designed and built by people who understand machining and the challenges faced by operators – lots of little design features that make life easier, like a toolholder on the front panel, so the tools are to hand, and a small shelf on the back of the control. I can really imagine the Haas engineers spending time on the shop floor studying how an operator works, and then incorporating those ideas into the design.
The CKU SPORT FITNESS
Subcontract machining has always been our bread and butter, but during quiet periods, I found myself craving more of a challenge. That’s when I decided to design and build the MotoGP simulator – it’s called the CKU Sport Fitness – to have our own product. To develop the simulator, I partnered with my friend, Catalan rider Alex Criville, the 1999 500cc world champion, and Javier Ullate, mechanic of the Yamaha official team in MotoGP. The CKU Sport Fitness is an official MotoGP sanctioned product, and Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, and Tito Rabat already use it to maintain their familiarity with various tracks. But, it’s being developed, constantly. Team and rider sponsors also use it for promotional purposes.Powered jacks driven by servomotors move it in two axes, to simulate acceleration, braking and cornering. The rider faces a screen displaying real-time footage of MotoGP riders lapping at race speed. We get some useful feedback from our customers – Valentino Rossi asked if we could make it wheelie! We’re using the Haas ST-30Y turning centre to make the brake movement axis and the lateral movement axis for the simulator. We’re extremely happy with the Haas turning centre, and with the support and service we receive from the Spanish Haas Factory Outlet, based in Barcelona. We haven’t had any problems with the machine, but it’s good to know service, support, and spare parts can be on-hand the next day.