3D software firm helps lift off world-first hypersonic engine design

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A 3D software firm is supporting the design of a world-first hypersonic engine which will cut the flight time from London to Australia to just over four hours.

CCSL, which is Wales’ only reseller of the 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software called SOLIDWORKS, is marking a decade-long working partnership with innovative technology experts Reaction Engines.

CCSL-Reaction Engines
From left to right; Emyr Hughes, CCSL Managing Director, Mike Jones, CCSL Technical Director and Stuart Webb, Design Office Manager for Reaction Engines.
113: From left to right; Mike Jones, CCSL Technical Director, Emyr Hughes, CCSL Managing Director, and Stuart Webb, Design Office Manager for Reaction Engines.

Since May 2008, CCSL, which has an office in Deeside and a regional centre with training facilities in Abercynon, just north of Cardiff, has supplied Reaction Engines with the licences and technical support needed to maximise their use of this vital piece of 3D software.

Over the years, CCSL has supplied more than 35 licences to the Abingdon-based firm, which was formed in 1989 to design and develop the technologies needed for a new class of innovative hypersonic propulsion system – the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE).

The hybrid air-breathing rocket engine, which is a cross between a jet and a rocket engine, is being designed to send an aircraft from a standing start to over five times the speed of sound for hypersonic flight in the atmosphere, and over 25 times the speed of sound for space access.

The project has been backed by industry giants such as Boeing, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. The UK Government has committed £60 million via the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency.

CCSL’s technical knowledge of SOLIDWORKS, which is used globally in all corners of the design and engineering sectors, has been instrumental in supporting the engineering experts at Reaction Engines to maximise their use of the software as they seek to bring the revolutionary engine to life.

Emyr Hughes, CCSL Managing Director, said: “They bought two licences from us initially back in 2008 and have since grown to become one of our biggest clients and it’s an extremely exciting project to be part of.

“The whole team at CCSL including myself and CCSL Technical Director Mike Jones feel quite privileged to be working with such a talented team who are developing something of such global might in the aerospace industry.

“Space exploration and engineering intrigue me and I have therefore always been interested in the technicalities behind it.

“The work at Reaction Engines, being carried out by this team of fantastically talented engineers, is pushing current manufacturing design and material capability to the limit. I am proud of the fact that they wouldn’t be achieving this without the 3D software we are supplying to them.

“We provide them with not only the actual design software licences but also the associated licences to manage the data they are producing through the design process.

“With the amount of licences and the subsequent data which is being produced, it needs to be managed efficiently in terms of revision control and workflow.

“In the world of product design controlling the data being produced by the design engineer is very important.

“It can take days to produce a design document and they become very valuable documents because those generated are then sent to a manufacturer to produce the correct components.

“If you don’t have revision control and you don’t manage the workflow so the correct document is going to the correct person throughout the design and manufacturing process, then the manufacturer might be sent the wrong design document. This could mean the wrong item might be produced which is an extremely costly mistake to make in terms of time and money.

“The document management systems we are able to supply companies like Reaction Engines help to guard against this happening and become an essential part of the design and procurement process.

“Reaction Engines has grown massively as a company since we started with them and that’s another reason why the software we supply is so important to them.

“With the growth of personnel, it becomes more and more important to make sure all the data being produced is being managed efficiently and I think it is fair to say, this has been a very important part of their move forward as a growing organisation.”

Stuart Webb, Design Office Manager for Reaction Engines, heads up the team responsible for supporting the SABRE design activities.

Stuart, who formerly worked in Formula One, has worked with Emyr and his team from the start.
When he first arrived at the firm 10 years ago, 2D software was being used in the design process.

With CCSL’s help, Stuart and his team introduced the far more effective 3D software which helps the design engineers to virtually build the component they are working on and see more easily any flaws or limitations in their design and whether it can be manufactured effectively.

He said: “The software which CCSL provide us is used very heavily in the design and concept generation of what we do. We use SOLIDWORKS for all our manufacturing drawings which provide the necessary information for manufacturing or assembly.

“The software is also crucial in the management of the data we produce, because of the collaborative way in which we design what we are working on.

“It allows people to work on the same project much more efficiently by allowing multiple users access to the data which is constantly being revised. CCSL has worked closely with us to help configure the software so it works best for us.

“They are always willing to help if there are technical problems and the technologies we are looking at are very unique so we need help to push the CAD software to do something different a lot of the time.

“The team at CCSL are technically very supportive and we have established an excellent working relationship over the last decade.”

For more information contact CCSL on 01244 289350 and website is www.ccsl-cad.co.uk