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Mini Sport's Mazak 5-Axis machine, as used by F1 & Aerospace Engineering

Mini Sport's state-of-the-art Mazak 5-axis CNC Machine, housed in MAD.

Motorsport Advanced Development (MAD)

Part of the Mini Sport Group of Companies

Origins

Innovation has been a constant part of our business here at Mini Sport. Since our incorporation, (when our founder, Brian Harper, created an improved throttle linkage for the original models), our Mini specialists have regularly pushed the boundaries of automotive design. Each change we’ve made in the machinery, techniques or materials we use has solely been to improve the effectiveness and durability of the parts we manufacture.

One of the major changes we’ve experienced over the years has been the introduction of CNC (Computer-Numerical Control) equipment, leading to us to establish an additional, specialised service – M.A.D (Motor Sport Advanced Development). Proving popular with rallying enthusiasts and restorers alike, M.A.D are able to create replica, improved or even customised parts to optimise the driving experience of the classic Mini.

In 2003, we established M.A.D to work alongside Mini Sport Ltd to supply CNC-produced precision-engineered components for the Mini. Working closely with our in-house technicians and customers, M.A.D has come to understand the engineering requirements of each of our clients, even helping to shape their ideas to create their ideal Mini parts.

3-D Scanning

Often working in conjunction with 3-D printers, the main role of a 3-D scanner is to examine a physical object and send the data to the computer terminal for analysis. This is a particularly useful method to replicate or reimagine old Mini parts – seeing where they’re going wrong or where they can be improved.

Once the data has been received and scrutinised, a Mini specialist can then choose to edit the dimensions on the terminal before starting the 3-D printing process.

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3-D Printing

3-D printers can create pretty much anything you can think of. No matter the shape, size, material or intention of the object you want to make, using the latest software and 3-D printing machinery can make anything from ceramic cups to plastic toys, stoneware vases to fancy chocolate cakes – it’s also becoming possible to create functioning human body parts with 3-D printing!

But we aren’t here to discuss human body parts (a sentence we’d never thought we’ll write!), metal machine parts is what we do – and we make use of a 3-D printer to create them. Replacing the traditional factory production lines, a 3-D printer can create a mechanical part on just a single machine – just like how home inkjet printers replaced ink wells, a printing press, hot metal types and a drying rack.

The process starts by designing a 3-D image on a PC – operators are given instructions by Mini specialist mechanics to understand the dimensions they will need to plot. The object will then be drawn on the computer’s software and the information sent to the 3-D printer for it to be created.

The process is a little like watching a loaf being sliced – but in reverse. Imagine all the slices of a loaf being stacked against each other and combined to create a single object – that’s basically what 3-D printing is. The information given to the printer is of one whole object made from thousands of tiny pieces; the printer recreates this in physical form and builds up the layers, slice by slice. This allows for more precision to be applied – hence why it’s perfect to create moving parts like hinges and wheels.

A particular part that the Mini specialists here at Mini Sport used 3-D printing to create was a Rigid 1 piece alloy calliper; providing the brakes with an enhanced ability to slow the wheels down.

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CNC Machines

CNC machines are high-precision tools that are computer-controlled and make repeated, accurate movements. They do so by taking computer-generated codes and converting them through the software to produce electrical signals. These signals are what controls manufacturing machinery and directs their motors to move across materials in small increments that are highly precise and repetitive.

Common terms used in regards to CNC machines are ‘CAM’ (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) and CAD (Computer-Aided Design). CAD is software that creates, modifies, analyses or optimises a design, whilst CAM translates those designs into the numerical instructions that the CNC machine requires to produce the design in physical form.

As a result of their high qualities, the manufacturing industry of today heavily relies on CNC machines to create products for tasks that once used engineer-operated equipment (such as routers, vertical millers, shaping machines and centre lathes).

Product manufacturers in many industries choose CNC machines for their fabrication and manufacturing qualities; they’re able to provide an efficient and precise production capacity that is ideal for creating large and higher-quality quantities of items that are normally produced with the myriad of equipment mentioned above.

 

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Advantages of Using CNC Machines
To Create Mini Parts

  • Precision and Endurance. By using a digital template and autonomous machining, CNC can practically eliminate human error, achieving exact accuracy on every single piece it creates. As they’re able to work around-the-clock every day, during the weekend and throughout holiday periods, the only rest that the machines need will be for maintenance or repair.
  • High Quality Production, Scalability and Capability. Once the design information and specifications have been entered into a CNC machine it will consistently execute large quantities and even afford flexible scalability. This not only helps to produce several great quality products to the customer’s specifications but also helps to cut down on material wastage too. This vastly drives down manufacturing costs, resulting in a more cost-effective purchase for the customer.In terms of the machine’s capabilities, CNC’s give Mini specialists the ability to create outputs that cannot be replicated by manual machines. Even the most talented engineers cannot produce any size, shape or texture needed with conventional machines, than what advanced software can do with CNC machines.
  • Design Retention. When a design has been loaded into the software and the ideal prototype has been created, the program can easily reload the design to run the production repeatedly. This ‘master file’ ensures that regardless of external factors (such as a change in the machine operator), the CNC’s machining process produces an exact match every single time.
  • Versatility. CNC machines can create virtually any Mini component you can imagine. This provides a limitless array of versatility for the customer – from replicas of (and often, better functioning than) the originals to customised Mini parts geared towards a certain style or taste.
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Thanks to these advantages, M.A.D can offer a complete precision engineering service including prototyping and high volume production, then the deliverance of fully-finished precision-engineered components.

The Classic Mini’s Big Future – Be A Part of It

We are constantly pushing the boundaries of development here at Mini Sport – perfectly fitting our philosophy of continuous improvement. As one of the most innovative cars of its time, the classic Mini has prevailed for all of these years, even picking up new generations of enthusiasts as it speeds along. Keeping the spirit of originals alive, whilst still seeking improvements, is vital to us.

This is why we use our 3-D printing, scanning and CNC machines to create our Mini parts and accessories. So whether you’re looking to repair your Mini, restore it with OEM parts (that are hard to come by these days in their original form) or are looking to customise your Mini, improving its on-track performance, we have everything you will need.