MIRA will save automotive component manufacturers and system suppliers time
and money with a new laboratory rig called the CUBE.
The American-designed rig is literally an 0.8-metre cube of magnesium. It
contains six servohydraulic actuators and sophisticated displacement measuring equipment.
The CUBE replicates vibrations experienced by the car so that various components can
be developed without destroying test vehicles.
Currently, components are tested on mule vehicles driven for days, weeks and sometimes
months, round tortuous Proving Ground circuits such as MIRA's unique Belgian pavé. Often
the development programme is cut short when test vehicles, playing host to the new
components, succumb to the brutal punishment dished out by the Proving Ground special
The CUBE overcomes this!
A further problem for Tier 1 suppliers is the need to include differing environmental
conditions during component and system development programmes. This can mean halting work
in one country and shipping vehicles, engineers and equipment to, say, the Arctic Circle
or possibly the Arizona Desert all adding to time and costs...
The CUBE overcomes this!
Switching a component test on the CUBE from one 'taking place' north of the
Arctic Circle to one in the desert, is as simple as flicking a switch since the CUBE
sits within its own environmental cabinet. This is capable of generating a range of
temperatures from as low as -200C to as high as +1000C as well as providing controlled
humidity up to 98% RH.
Yet another bonus offered by the CUBE is that it has an acoustic capability.
Conventional multi-axis vibration rigs - even of lower complexity - are so noisy that they
drown-out the acoustic performance of the component under evaluation. This is a major
problem for engineers seeking to maximise refinement of passenger cars.
Because the CUBE is built 'inside-out', many noise-generating linkages are
eliminated. Those that remain are all within its thick magnesium walls and are as near
silent as is possible. A spin-off from this particular design aspect is that the CUBE's
frequency response is higher allowing it to more-closely reproduce car background noise
MIRA Component Engineering is investing almost £350,000 in the installation of the new
CUBE which will be in action towards the end of the summer. Already the new rig has
assisted MIRA in securing three significant development programmes. Parts typically suited
to development on the CUBE include seats, fascias and even complete car interiors.
Graham Townsend, MIRA's Director of Engineering, said:
"The CUBE is the most advanced technology available to automotive components
and systems manufacturers. MIRA is proud to be among the first to provide European and
North American Tier 1 suppliers with access to this development equipment.
"Of course, the rig is only part of the story. Because MIRA offers a fully
integrated development and approval service, customers benefit both from our facilities
and from our heritage of expertise built up over the past 53 years."
The CUBE, which is built in America by the TEAM Corporation Inc., is marketed in
Europe by lnstron Schenck Testing Systems who have worked closely with MIRA on the supply
and installation of the new rig.
The CUBE's climatic capability is being created by MIRA Test Facilities Engineering who
have integrated the rig's new chamber with existing air-conditioning plant serving other
facilities within the same laboratory.
CUBE is a registered trademark of the TEAM Corporation of America.