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Robo Challenge invited us to come and meet the team and the house robots ahead of filming for the second series of Robot Wars. We spent the morning chatting with the Robo Challenge team and having a look around their workshop.
The family run company is based in Birmingham and make one-off creations for a number of media clients. Recent projects include a working replica of a gun from ‘Titanfall 2’ video game and a full size Mack (robot dog) from the game ReCore. Robo Challenge use a range of technologies during the build including robotics, welding, plasma cutting and 3D printing. There were over 1,000 hours of 3D printing to make Mack!
The BBC asked Robo Challenge to create the house robots for the re-launch of Robot Wars which aired earlier this year. Robo Challenge also designed the new battle arena to accommodate the new bigger, badder robots.
Robo Challenge and a number of the teams that compete in the Wars use R-Tech Welding TIG’s, MIG’s and plasma cutters to create their robots.
R-Tech Welding Equipment is sponsoring Ben Davis in the Renault UK Clio Cup at the BTCC weekend at Silverstone. We are giving away 2 tickets to 1 lucky person for Sunday 18th September 2016! As well as a full day of racing you will get to meet Ben and have a tour of the paddock. To be in a with chance of winning this incredible prize you need to go to our Facebook page and like the pinned post at the top. You will also need to comment with who you would like to bring with you. 1 winner will be selected at random after the closing date 13/09/16 11.59 PM. The winner will be announced and contacted on Facebook.
Terms and Conditions:
Facebook post must be liked and commented on before 13/09/16 11.59 PM. Winner will be selected at random (via Fan Page Karma). Winner must be available on 18/09/16 to attend the event. Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is available. Prize includes entry to the circuit for the event of BTCC on 18/09/16 only and to meet Ben Davis and have a tour of the paddock at a time agreed with Ben Davis.
R-Tech Welding Equipment is sponsoring Ben Davis at the Silverstone round of the UK Clio Cup. But how did this come about and 'Who is Ben Davis'?
Ben approached us a couple of years ago regarding obtaining funding for sponsorship. Ben is a local lad from Ledbury and wanted local companies to sponsor him. He approached us as he knew of both our interest and supply in motorsport (we are petrolheads!) After long discussions we agreed to get him to Silverstone.
We caught up with Ben to get a bit of background on his career.
Height: 5ft 8in
Weight: 10st 5lb
Favourite colour: RenaultSport liquid yellow
Favourite circuit: Snetterton 300
Q.How did you get into racing?
Back in 2003, aged 10, at a simple kart track in southern Spain! My brother (two years older) and I both took to the track for the first time, minimal safety/rules/supervision, and were absolutely hooked from the outset. From then on, we looked at ways to do it competitively and I began a junior karting championship at Castle Combe aged 13
Q.Tell us a bit about the car that you will be driving at Silverstone this year.
It is a Renault Clio Cup (gen 4) race car, built from scratch as a race car (as opposed to converted road car) by RenaultSport in France. Each car comes direct from the factory and all parts are homologated and/or sealed to ensure performance parity. It uses a 1.6l turbo engine with around 225bhp. More impressive than that is the cornering and braking ability; full race suspension, very powerful diff, ‘paddleshift’ Sadev gearbox, Dunlop racing slick tyres and fully stripped out with roll cage etc. The actual car was the car used by last year’s championship challenger Ash Hand who won the most races in it in 2015.
Q.Do you do this full time?
That is certainly the future plan, however I am a trainee solicitor as my ‘day job’!
Q.How do you prepare for a race?
First of all, all the administrative and logistical issues need to be addressed such as hospitality arrangements for all the guests, liaising with the team in relation to parts required for the car, sorting out insurance/entry forms and other paperwork, contacting press and media outlets and so on; this is crucial to get fully sorted before the weekend so everything runs smoothly and I can concentrate on the job in hand.
Fitness is another area I work on, it could be seen that racing just involves driving a car, but the forces on your body and intensity of heat and concentration during a race require a good level of fitness and endurance. Any little advantage to be gained in this area by not being in any way fatigued towards the end of the race is an advantage worth having! Moreover, the warm up lap is one of the most physically demanding parts of the weekend, getting heat into the rear tyres is absolutely essential and to achieve this, you have to really throw the car round which is very physically demanding.
Lastly, due to a testing ban on the circuits that haven’t yet been raced at that season, it is important to look through any data, timesheets and on-board videos available (whether with me driving or someone else) looking for lines, braking points or any little bits of information which could help when heading out on track.
Q.What is your motivation?
Motorsport, especially as a racing driver, is something that you get absolutely hooked on. It’s all I work towards and think about! The main motivation for me is to have the opportunity to see whether or not I can make a career out of it – I want to know whether I am good enough to make it to the very top.
Q.Who is your inspiration and why?
Whilst BTCC has always been the main passion over Formula One, I have to say Ayrton Senna has always been my main inspiration. His unique personality and sheer passion for the sport is truly inspiring and I have huge admiration for the emotional side of the man, something which I feel is lacking in a number of modern-day drivers.
Q.What is your dream car?
My dream road car would have to be a McLaren F1 – pure, simple but brilliant British Engineering which isn’t seen today.
Q.Which series would you ultimately like to progress to?
The dream has always been, and always will be, the BTCC.
Q.What car do you drive on a daily basis?
Perhaps inevitably, I drive a RenaultSport Clio 200 – in liquid yellow!
Q.What do you enjoy most about being a racing driver?
The feeling of putting everything (everything being the endless hours preparation and sponsor-hunting) to one side as you go out to the grid for a race.
Q.What do you enjoy least about being a racing driver?
Sitting in the assembly area before heading out onto the circuit! There is nothing worse because you never know for sure when you will be let out (it could be in 10 seconds, it could be in 10 minutes), you cannot help but let your mind spin with thoughts about the race and that is when pressure and nerves are at their highest!
R-Tech Welding Equipment is proud and excited to announce that we are sponsoring Ben Davis to race in the Silverstone round of the Renault UK Clio Cup 16th-18th September 2016.
Ben has a real passion and tenacity for what he does. We will be following Ben’s journey in the lead up to and during the race weekend.
Stay posted for regular updates and a chance to win some tickets for the Sunday with the chance to meet Ben and a look round the paddock...
R-Tech Welding Equipment were delighted to be invited to attend Sussex Coast College for their 1st Welding Skills Challenge. We have been supplying the college with welding machines for a number of years and it was a great opportunity for us to meet and greet the staff and students to obtain an even greater understanding of their needs. The college has fantastic workshop facilities and very friendly and knowledgeable staff. Once we had set up in the morning we were briefed as to the itinerary for the day. Throughout the day we ran Plasma Cutting demonstrations and let everyone have a play at cutting things up! We were also there to speak to the students about our range of machines and offer advise on setting up.
The competition ran from 12-4 pm. They ran 2 skill levels on the day.
R-Tech Welding caught up with Robo Challenge to discuss the building of the updated house robots for the up-coming new series of Robot Wars. Robo Challenge purchased an R-Tech MIG180, MIG250 and TIG210EXT to construct these huge robots.
Q - It has been 12 years since the last series of Robot Wars was filmed. What upgrades have you given the house robots to keep up with the changes in technology?
In the last 12 years, technology and materials have improved significantly. These include ultra-lightweight and powerful Lithium Polymer batteries giving increased performance and more spare weight to dedicate to weapons and armour. Motor technology has improved significantly in the recent years with small lightweight and powerful brush-less motors, these can be up to 10x lighter than older brushed motor technology.
With this in mind we knew the House Robots needed more drive power, more weapon power, more armour and also a lot more weight behind them. The drive on Matilda and Shunt are around 12x the power of their predecessors.
Shunts axe is immensely more powerful than it used to be, running at higher CO2 pressures and a much larger weapon overall. Every single element of each robot has been improved to take on the ever increasing power of the competitors.
Q - How did Robo Challenge get involved with Robot Wars?
Robo Challenge are contacted regularly with regards to creative engineering projects for TV shows and PR campaigns. Our reputation of high quality work, fast turn arounds and friendly family run business means we are the go-to company for a lot of exciting projects such as this.
Q - What metals are the robots made from?
Each House Robot is created with unique materials and metals to suit their needs. We use a wide range of metals such as mild steel chassis’, Hardox wear plate weaponry, Armox armour plating and Titanium such as the axe head on Shunt. Some of the robots even have thick fibreglass bodies to create the more organic profiles that help create the character of the machines.
Q - The making of the robots included welding using an R-Tech MIG180, MIG250 and TIG210EXT. What were the team’s thoughts on using these machines?
Welders and Plasma cutters were the 2 main tools we used to create the robots. This meant that they were in use constantly, with often 3 welders and the plasma cutter being used at the same time for hours on end each day. With such a wide range of metals to work with, the tools performed flawlessly. We had to weld and cut anything from 1mm mild steel sheet up to 20mm thick Hardox wear plate. The ease and speed of set up of all of our tools are critical to get large projects like this completed quickly and to extremely high standards. The R-Tech equipment didn’t disappoint. It’s nice to finally weld with a TIG that’s silent and doesn’t interfere with the old analogue radio!
Q - How long did it take to build each of the robots?
Ideas, sketches and meetings went on for quite some time before Robot Wars was announced on what the house robots would be, how they would function and what components would be used. We then had around 7-8 weeks to get all 4 physically built and transported up to Glasgow ready for battle. This was very tight, and I am extremely happy with the end results.
Q - How many of you are there in the team and do you have dedicated team members for each robot?
During our initial designs and discussions, it was clear that we each had our favourite robot from the original series, and our ideas grew with our passion for working on that machine. With this in mind we split into 3 teams, with a leader of each to work on and create the 3 smaller House Robots, Matilda, Dead Metal and Shunt. We then all joined together to create the 741kg beast that is Sir Killalot!
Q - Did you come across any issues in the rebuild and how did you overcome them?
Collectively, our main team of 4 have over 55 years experience in building fighting robots, and with that comes a lot of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. Just like an engineer can look at a problem and find the solution out of instinct, we can do the same with robots. We have created all sorts of projects for TV and PR campaigns so we are very familiar with the technologies used, the reliability and how these components work in unconventional circumstances. We had very few issues along the way, which is what allowed us to complete them in such a short timescale. There are the obvious things where we have a change of mind of the placement of a component or the visual aspect wanted tweaking, but all in all the builds went very smoothly.
Q - There are only 4 house robots, how did you decide which ones to bring back?
I think this was the easiest choice for everyone involved. As consultants on the show, we searched on Robot Wars fan pages and websites where there were LOTS of discussions about the original house robots, which ones they liked and which they didn’t. There was a clear top 4, each with unique characters and weaponry that we felt could really be improved upon. We sent our findings and opinions to Mentorn (Production company behind the original and new Robot Wars) and BBC who also agreed that bringing back Matilda, Dead Metal, Shunt and Sir Killalot was a great way to kick off the new series. Early on there were discussions of creating all new designs, however I think BBC have made a great choice with bringing the fan favourites back, evolved and better than ever.
Q - What weapons have each of the robots got?
Each House Robot is unique in its weaponry.
Matilda : Flipping tusks capable of lifting 1.5tonnes, and a 35kg Hardox flywheel on the rear to tear into its prey.
Dead Metal : Large 1.4m wide grapplers clamp with 300kg to hold opponents in place, whilst the 450mm dia 4000rpm friction saw cuts through almost any material.
Shunt : Titanium tipped axe, that swings over in less that 0.25ms onto its opponents. Powered by CO2 it also has a Hardox Bucket on the front to flip with more than 350kg of force.
Sir Killalot : 2 large hydraulic operated arms capable of lifting 300kg each. One is equipped with a large drill lance, and the other with a powerful crushing claw with more than 2500kg of crush at the tips.
Q - Will there be more series made?
We can only speculate at this point as the new series that was filmed in March this year has not been aired or seen yet. Until feedback and viewing figures come in I doubt we will hear anything regarding another series. The hype online so far is immense, and I genuinely hope the show is a huge success. I grew up watching Robot Wars as a child and started building my own smaller robots in school, sculpting my career and ultimately leading to the creation of our company Robo Challenge. There are very few TV shows that can reach such a wide range of audience, whilst at the same time promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, which is key for the younger generation.
Q - What is the next project for Robo Challenge?
At Robo Challenge we are almost always working on something exciting, but sadly we are not allowed to say exactly what they are until our projects appear to the public. However, Keep an eye on CBBC for Dick and Dom’s Absolute Genius, and The Gadget Show in the near future for some of the builds we are currently working on!
Here at R-Tech Welding we love to interact with our community of welders. We enjoy seeing your work, whether you are a fabricator, an artist, a hobbyist or a structural welder we want to see what you are welding. We have now created an Instagram account to make it even easier for you to share you work with us. Simply use #rtechwelding on your posts and follow our Instagram page here.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our newest MIG welder into the R-Tech range of machines.
The MTS450SWF Inverter MIG, MMA & DC TIG welder features a high 60% duty cycle, separate wire feed unit with 15KG reel capacity, heavy duty trolley and MIG wave adjustment for fine control of welding arc. Ideal for maintenance, automotive and heavy fabrication welding.
The MTS450 has a separate 4-Roll geared wire feed unit which provides a consistent weld bead. It also provides very smooth low splatter welds on all steels and aluminium due to its inverter technology.
It will weld from as low as 40 Amps in MIG mode all the way up to 450 Amps, and then from 20 Amps to 450 Amps in TIG DC mode making it extremely versatile.
The R-Tech MTS450SWF MIG-TIG-ARC Welder comes as a complete package with a 3M MB36 Air Cooled MIG Torch, an earth lead, an MMA lead, a gas hose, mains cable, a gas regulator and a torch consumables kit.
For more information please click the link below:
Plasma CNC cutting systems have been around for a long time. However the price of these systems has meant that they were unattainable for a lot of people. R-Tech have now produced a full system at a more affordable price.
The incredible CNC cutting table system from R-Tech is a computer controlled CNC plasma cutting station producing accurate and detailed cut parts for light manufacturing, D.I.Y and creative art uses. Complete system including R-Tech P50CNC Plasma Cutter, PC and software.
Click below link to view
We are proud to release our latest 160Amp 240V DC Digital TIG Welder.
Featuring a massive 35% duty cycle, 9 job memory store, full control of all welding parameters including pre-gas, start amps, slope up, main / pulse amps, down-slope, final amps and post flow gas, this truly is a welder for the enthusiast / professional.
This will run on a 13A 240V supply so you can use anywhere with a domestic 240V supply!
Comes with a WP17 Ultra-Flex torch - Flexi head and also extremely flexible torch cable with swivel giving the utmost comfort when welding.
Featuring full pulse welding with controls for Pulse Amps, Width and % on time so easy to setup for customers new to pulse welding.
Covered by our no quibble 2 year collect and return warranty - We pay to collect, repair and return welder to you via next working day courier - quick and easy. You don't have to worry about sending item to us at your cost like many of our competitors do!
We also offer a 10 year duty of care on all our products so if you need any spares in the future we'll have them on the shelf for you.
Currently offered with a remote foot pedal at £89 + VAT, Normally £149 + VAT
Full details can be found by clicking the link below