THE FUTURE IS CARBON
Since its inception, Wilson Benesch has endeavoured to pioneer the use of new technologies, apply emerging findings from material science research, use the latest manufacturing methods and incorporate these developments in the design of innovative products. Using carbon fibre composites ever since the launch of its first product, the A.C.T. Turntable in 1989, and including them in almost every subsequent product, Wilson Benesch has become inextricably linked with the application of carbon fibre composite technology. Investing much of its profit in high risk research and development and contemporary manufacturing technology, Wilson Benesch has also progressed technologies in milestones by completing landmark projects with support from Her Majesty's Government Technology Strategy Board funding. It is this dedication to being at the cutting edge of scientific research that has led to the brand's worldwide recognition as a technologically advanced high end audio design and manufacturing company,
Wilson Benesch developed the original Tactic drive unit and subsequent Tactic II drive unit around this philosophy. We employed a light cone material, with phenomenally powerful NdFeB Rare Earth Magnets, with a highly evolved motor geometry to optimise flux. The result was a dynamic drive unit that could excurse through the in and out range of its movement during use very quickly and under a high degree of control. The original Tactic design was described as “lightning fast” in the first test reviews.
Having secured a £250,000 DTi SMART Award from the government as part of the development of the Chimera loudspeaker, Wilson Benesch developed its own drive technology in the shape of the highly regarded tactic drive unit. A blisteringly fast and dynamic multi role drive technology manufactured entirely in house alongside the unique Semisphere tweeter. The tactic drive unit at the heart of the Square Five, is a highly optimised engineered component built to the exact requirements of the Square Series II.
Familiar from the Odyssey Range and the Wide Bandwidth Collection, the ScanSpeak Tweeter is a 25mm (1”) fabric-dome tweeter. The tweeter has been modified to a Wilson Benesch specification, featuring an improved magnet assembly and no ferrofluid.
The midrange frequency band is where the human ear is most sensitive. During the development of the Cardinal, the Troika System was developed; a unique drive unit topology that sees the Semisphere Tweeter flanked by a lower midrange Tactic driver above and an upper midrange Tactic driver below. The result is a lucid and highly transparent soundstage, derived from seamless, natural and coherent integration of mid and high frequency drivers
Isobaric Drive produces extremely low bass, while remaining highly dynamic and perfectly integrated with the midrange drive units. It deploys two Tactic drive units, line astern and conventionally connected, with the motor coils wired in parallel. The composite dual driver has the following characteristics compared with a single device: twice the moving mass, half the compliance, half the impedance for which it draws twice the input current and hence double the power.
Designed and manufactured in house, the Semisphere has been developed to match the Tactic II Drive Unit, creating seamless integration across the mid-high frequency band. At the heart of the Semisphere is the Silk-Carbon Hybrid Dome. The hybrid dome tweeter, retains the natural sound of a soft dome tweeter, remaining free from sibilance. However the addition of carbon fibre through a proprietary technique, allows the Semisphere to remain flat through the frequency range to 30kHz.
Applying the same principals as the Inline Isobaric, the sole difference with the Clamshell Isobaric formation is the connection of the drivers; interiors driver are wired with the inverse polarity of the exterior driver, meaning that both drivers move in the same overall direction, with one driver ingressing and the other egresses when a signal is applied. As such, an added benefit of the clamshell formation is that non-linearities from driver movement are cancelled out, increasing the accuracy of frequency response
The A.C.T. Monocoque is a sophisticated three-layer composite structure comprising satin weave carbon fibre, high compression blast core and glass fibre. In terms of material properties, it exceed the stiffness and energy damping capacity of materials conventionally used in loudspeaker fabrication, resulting in a very high signal-to-noise ratio.
The curved geometric form of the A.C.T Monocoque enables the loudspeaker to disappear within the listening space, producing a wide, open and lifelike soundstage. Reduction in the flat surfaces of the loudspeaker cabinet negates standing wave. Additionally, waves that interact with the cabinet are diffracted through a wide angle which diminishes their energy. The loudspeaker appears almost stealth-like, since it is almost impossible for the ear to detect distortions produced by the cabinet.
CARBON FIBRE TOP
Following the principles of the A.C.T. Monocoque, the complex organic forms of Wilson Benesch carbon fibre tops have been designed to damp internal cabinet born resonance and negate standing waves by interacting with the loudspeaker surface. The overall effect is vastly improved signal-to-noise ratio.
They are perhaps the most complex carbon fibre forms Wilson Benesch has created. Developed using industry standard 3D CAD / CAM software, each mould tool is milled from a solid blocks of aluminium to a high degree of accuracy. Subsequently the resin transfer moulding technique perfected in the A.C.T. Monocoque is employed to create the highly structure to be created.
Kinematic location was first used by Wilson Benesch in the bearing of the tonearm. The bearing features four 1mm carbon-chrome ball bearings, three held captive in a brass ball cap located in the egg shaped housing at the rear of the tonearm. When mated the fourth ball is held in a high pressure triangulated frame of reference ensuring that the centre of movement can never change regardless of the age of the system or the ambient temperature.
It is easy to appreciate how important the stability and consistency of this bearing is when one considers that a turntable is purely a system of measurement, designed to allow a ~10nm (0.000001mm) cantilever tip to trace a ~50µm (0.05mm) groove in a piece of vinyl.
Kinematic location is employed to provide high integrity stabilisation in Wilson Benesch Geometry Series loudspeakers and the R1 Hi-Fi Rack. The load of a product is transferred to a set of 28mm or 14mm threaded stainless steel spikes which each hold captive a steel ball bearing. These ball bearings interface with three chrome steel balls held captive within the floor protector, constricting all axes of movement. High pressure contacts are produced, in the region of hundreds of tonnes per square inch, as the entire mass of the system is transferred to a surface contact of less than 1mm2.
CARBON FIBRE TONEARM
Carbon fibre is truly a wonder material: torsionally 10x stiffer than titanium; half the mass of aluminium; 5x the specific stiffness of steel and a damping coefficient unparalleled among conventional engineering material by an order of magnitude .
Approximately 1/25 the diameter of a human hair, each carbon fibre filament is barely visible to the naked eye, but organised in a woven twill pattern and wrapped around in a helix, Wilson Benesch has employed the combined effect of millions of carbon fibres to derive performance improvements in torsional stiffness and damping. The A.C.T. 25 Tonearm geometry has been highly optimised Using finite element analysis (FEA) to extract maximum stiffness and damping across the tapering form of the tonearm. The geometry also reduces material use, therefore reducing the mass of the tonearm at the end, the mass of the counterweight and the overall system mass.
CARBON FIBRE TOP
CARBON FIBRE TONEARM
After an initial ideation and sketching phase, all new Wilson Benesch products begin life as a 3D computer model. Each individual component within the design is modelled in detail before being virtually assembled into a new product.
Using 3D CAD software affords the Wilson Benesch design team incredible flexibility; numerous iterations of a design can be previewed in photorealistic detail before commitment to the physical prototyping or production of tooling for new components. Additionally, component and assemblies can be subjected to testing using Finite Element Analysis (FEA). When a design is finalised, 3D components formulate the starrting point for all Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM)
Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) is the process of converting a 3D computer model of a component into a program for a CNC mill or lathe that enables the component to be manufactured. A program is designed by specifying a series of tools, tool movements, and tool speed and feed rates, which drill, mill or turn the part into a given shape. The program can be simulated virtually to ensure that component geometries are achieved correctly before proceeding to physical manufacture.
CAM ensures very high accuracy, consistency and surface finish of components , possessing the ability to work to tolerance as precise as 1 micron (0.001mm) .
Wilson Benesch uses Hurco VM30 and VM30i mills situated in the manufacturing plant of its headquarters to transform raw stock materials into aluminium, steel, polymer and carbon fibre components for use across its full range of products. Components are milled in batches using a series of high grade milling, drilling, tapping, chamfering and facing tools. Depending on its complexity, a component may require several milling operations in multiple orientations to achieve the geometry required.
After milling, components are checked for accuracy and quality before progressing to their next stage of manufacture, commonly to be finished by anodising or coating.
Click here to see an example of CNC milling at Wilson Benesch
All cylindrical components required for Wilson Benesch products are machined using a Hurco TMM10i lathe situated in the manufacturing plant at company headquarters. Since this is a three-axis lathe with live tooling, it is capable of drilling and milling as well as turning components, significantly increasing accuracy and accelerating production. Additionally, machining can run semi-automated using a bar feeder.
As with CNC milling, all components are checked for accuracy and surface finish after production. However, many components produced by the lathe are self finishing, featuring a high quality machined or spun finish.
Vacuum Resin Transfer Moulding (VRTM) is the technique used by Wilson Benesch to process carbon fibre. The technique was developed for the production of the A.C.T. Monocoque, but has subsequently been used for fabrication of other carbon fibre components. As an early adopter of carbon fibre composites, Wilson Benesch was on of the first four companies in the UK to use this technology.
A.C.T. Monocoque manufacture involves laying dry substrates including satin weave carbon fibre, glass fibre and blast core into a mirror surface finish aluminium outer mould tool, before inserting an inner mould tool, sealing the mould and pulling a vacuum. Epoxy resin is then injected into the mould and is pulled throughout the construction by the pressure of the vacuum. After curing, the mould is released to reveal a self finishing component, ready to be cut to length and built into a Geometry Series product
When all the components required for a product have been machined and finished, they are checked for quality before being assembled in the production area of the company's headquarters. This process entails a variety of individual steps, ranging from the intricate assembly of driver units and tweeters to the larger scale fabrication of cabinets.
Upon completion, all products are performance tested, meticulously checked and thoroughly cleaned before being packaged and shipped for distribution around the world.
SSUCHY: Sustainable Structural and Multifunctional Biocomposites from Hybrid Natural Fibres and bio-based polymers
Wilson Benesch is a partner in the SSUCHY research partnership.
The SSUCHY project gathers 17 European partners. Together they will work in the next 4 years to develop composite constituents, based on renewable resources (i.e. bio-based polymers and natural fiber reinforcements).
The objective is the development of multifunctional recyclable and/or biodegradable biobased composites with advanced functionalities for applications in transportation (ground transportation and aerospace) and a high value market niche (acoustic and electronics). The project is dedicated to the development of specific concepts, technologies and materials along the complete value chain. It will also test their feasibility at demonstration scale. The expected impact is double. Firstly, set the basis and validate new bio-based constituents for composites. In a second step, the ambition is to propose new composite structures and products based on these bio-based constituents and demonstrate their advanced functionalities at demonstration scale.
The project will be carried out over 48 months, from September 2017 to August 2021, with a total budget of 7 411 150 €, including 4 457 195 € of BBI JU contribution. SSUCHY is financed by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking, under the auspices of the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union, convention n° 744349.
Wilson Benesch Ltd | Falcon House | Limestone Cottage Lane | Sheffield | United Kingdom | T +44 (0)114 285 2656
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