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Zircon Mock-Up Piston

A New Piston Design Is On The Market

Engine development will always involve generating horsepower. Different design variants require testing in order to find the right combination of parts. One of the first parts of the process involves fitting a piston dome to a cylinder head chamber.

The correct size piston dome, one that allows for maximum compression ratio yet doesn’t completely shroud the valves and spark plug, will always make power. Accomplishing this task usually involves ordering of a set of pistons with a blank dome. The engine builder’s job, then, involves machining and hand fitting one of those pistons to the cylinder head. This one piston dome is then replicated on each piston. In the case of a small block Chevrolet this involves having to hand fit both a right and left piston due to cylinder head valve placement. Time consuming, but necessary. Until now!

Diamond Pistons has been manufacturing racing pistons since 1968. They’ve recently come across a method of rapid prototyping that enables them to produce a mock-up piston in a matter of hours rather than days. The design of this “new” piston is created entirely on a 3D computer CAD program and fed to Diamond’s prototyping equipment, which in turn produces the piston.

This technology uses a powder and a binding agent to create, layer by layer, a solid sample. Individual parts, part arrays, or a multiple of different parts can all be built at one time using this kind of equipment. Once the powder-spraying process is complete, an applied coating seals the outside of the part against hydroscopic action (water absorption). This coating is absorbed into the part .040 of an inch so it can be machined.

The Zircon mock-up piston will eliminate time and money invested in correcting costly mistakes. This is accomplished by assembling the mock-up piston in the engine, which allows the customer the ability to evaluate and ensure dome clearance/volume as well as valve pocket depths and locations. If any grinding or machining is necessary, it can very easily be done at this time. The Zircon piston is soft enough to machine, yet maintains its dimensions very well. Once all the correct dimensions are verified, the mock-up piston is returned to Diamond, at which point it’s measurements are entered into a computer program and sent to the production department to produce a complete set of aluminum racing pistons.

While Diamond stocks hundreds of off-the-shelf pistons to fit most racing applications, both professional and sportsman engine builders know that a set of custom designed pistons will allow for more air/fuel flow over the dome, as well as fill the combustion chamber enough to build compression pressure. More pressure inside the combustion chamber simply leads to more horsepower. In the past, accomplishing this required the same procedure mentioned earlier. Now, however, that process has been greatly simplified.

This method of manufacture is also an aid in the unlikely event of an engine explosion. Ordinarily, when just one or two pistons need to be replaced, new pistons must be reordered and the whole hand-fitting process must be gone through all over again. Now, with your finished design piston already digitized and saved as a computer file, the real time spent is waiting for the production department to produce the part. Once the piston is shipped and placed in your hands, it’s all finished and ready to install.

This new piston doesn’t make any more power than a piston built the traditional way, but it will greatly simplify the engine builder’s job. Most know that time is money, so whenever time is saved, so are dollars.