BACK IN BUSI­NESS

Ayr­ton Senna in F1, Nigel Mansell in Indy­car and Michael Dun­lop in the Isle of Man TT – all three are linked to­gether by Bri­tish per­for­mance wheel spe­cial­ist, Dy­mag. Alex Kalin­auckas in­ves­ti­gates

Motor Sport News - - Engineering Supplement - Pho­tos: LAT

Max Boxstrom founded Dy­mag in Wilt­shire in 1974 and the com­pany sup­plied wheels to many fa­mous motorsport win­ners – on two wheels as well as four – dur­ing its hey­day in the 1980s and 1990s. The en­gi­neer’s name lives on to­day through the new Boxstrom car­bon hy­brid wheel.

“We were fa­mous then be­cause we had a re­ally good foundry that did die-cast mag­ne­sium wheels and could pro­duce some re­ally good qual­ity cast­ings,” ex­plains Mike Wil­son, the com­pany’s chief en­gi­neer to­day. “That’s why the name is Dy­mag – die-cast mag­ne­sium wheels.”

The com­pany is also no­table for pro­duc­ing the first three-spoke mo­tor­cy­cle wheel and the world’s first car­bon com­pos­ite com­mer­cial car wheel, as well as a suc­cess­ful range of forged alu­minium wheels. But things looked bleak in 2009 when a lack of in­vest­ment and low sales of high-spec wheels thanks to the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis meant Dy­mag faced bank­ruptcy.

En­ter, or rather re-en­ter, CEO Chris Shelley, who had led the com­pany dur­ing the 1990s. He put to­gether a fi­nan­cial res­cue pack­age to save Dy­mag that rested on main­tain­ing the busi­ness’s key as­set: its work­force.

“I bought it out from a liq­uida­tor and got to­gether with Mike and a cou­ple of other guys to restart in 2011,” he says. “The con­di­tion I gave was that if I couldn’t get the com­pany’s four core guys on board I wouldn’t do it. But they all agreed to come back.”

Af­ter some early dif­fi­cul­ties, the com­pany is back pro­duc­ing high-spec wheels for mo­tor­cy­cle teams and road cars. This come­back was boosted by new OEM in­ter­est in car­bon wheels for their high-per­for­mance ma­chines.

“For the first two years af­ter the takeover, we talked about car wheels but didn’t do any­thing,” says Shelley. “Then about three years ago, when it be­came clear that BMW and Ford had car­bon wheels and the whole ac­tiv­ity level seemed to be go­ing up a lot, I de­cided that I had bet­ter do some­thing about it.”

Af­ter rais­ing some funds, and se­cur­ing an Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Sup­ply Chain Ini­tia­tive (AMSCI) gov­ern­ment loan and grant pack­age to de­velop a high­qual­ity vol­ume man­u­fac­tur­ing process of £7.2 mil­lion, Dy­mag launched the Boxstrom wheel, the light­est, stiffest and strong­est wheel it has ever pro­duced. This is a car­bon com­pos­ite wheel rim with a fully op­ti­mised load path that is pro­tected by sacri­fi­cial bi-ax­ial com­pos­ite lay­ers for which patents have been filed.

As well as be­ing able to pro­duce its prod­ucts in a rea­son­able vol­ume re­peat­edly, Dy­mag also set its sights on at­tract­ing OEM part­ners to use its de­signs on their cars.

“The big mo­ti­va­tor for us is the fact that the car man­u­fac­tur­ers are now look­ing to put our wheels on their pro­duc­tion cars, al­beit at the higher spec end of their prod­uct ranges,” says Shelley.

The Briggs Au­to­mo­tive Com­pany is us­ing the Boxstrom on its BAC Mono and a re­cent deal with Fisker Inc will lead to the Boxstrom car­bon rim fit­ted on the Emo­tion elec­tric ve­hi­cle. An­other part­ner will be an­nounced soon and Shelley hopes five more OEM con­tracts will be se­cured by next year. “They will all be­come clear pro­vid­ing we get most of them or some of them dur­ing the first quar­ter of next year,” he says.

Dy­mag quickly be­gan to re-sup­ply mo­tor­cy­cle teams with wheels af­ter the res­cue – two 2016 IOM TT cat­e­gories were won on its wheels by Dun­lop – but it will have wait un­til at least 2018 be­fore re­turn­ing to four-wheeled motorsport.

“Hope­fully we will be able to start push­ing the motorsport agenda more ag­gres­sively, prob­a­bly from 2018 on­wards,” ex­plains Shelley.

The rea­son for this wait is that many high-pro­file motorsport cham­pi­onships do not al­low wheels to be made from car­bon. For­mula 1, for ex­am­ple, stip­u­lates that wheels must be made from mag­ne­sium al­loys.

But Shelley be­lieves that pres­sure from OEMS us­ing car­bon wheels on their road ranges will force cham­pi­onships to change their reg­u­la­tions to re­flect the prod­ucts that are al­ready avail­able com­mer­cially.

“There are some forms of racing that would be in­ter­ested in al­low­ing car­bon be­cause they want to be seen to be tech­ni­cally ad­vanced,” he says. “But there’s a lot of pol­i­tics to over­come be­fore oth­ers will change the rules that would sig­nif­i­cantly change the sup­plier base.”

If the rules in high-pro­file cham­pi­onships do change to al­low car­bon wheels, Shelley be­lieves motorsport of­fers a golden chance to show­case Dy­mag’s tech­nol­ogy on the global stage once again.

“We can de­velop our prod­ucts much bet­ter in racing by push­ing them to the limit, and also be­cause it’s very good mar­ket­ing,” he says. “It gives us a chance to demon­strate why our wheels are as good as we say they are. For those rea­sons we will def­i­nitely be com­ing back into racing.”

The new Boxstrom Car­bon Hy­brid Car Wheel is ini­tially avail­able in sizes: 20x9ins, 20x10.5ins, 20x11ins, 17x7.5ins, 17x9ins with a 20x12ins and more sizes in­clud­ing a range of 16 to 22ins to fol­low shortly dur­ing the course of 2017, as mar­ket re­quire­ments evolve. Prices are avail­able upon ap­pli­ca­tion.

En­quiries from OEM cus­tomers, and pre­mium wheel com­pa­nies who wish to use the Boxstrom Car­bon Rim with their own ex­clu­sive cen­tre­piece style are en­cour­aged.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on Dy­mag’s full range of auto and mo­tor­cy­cle wheels visit http://www.dy­mag.com/ ■

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