ES MAY 2021
Special promotions and discounted pricing to mark 30th anniversary of AAG
This year marks the 30th anniversary of AAG. Established originally as AXYZ International by Canada-based Alf Zeuner and Gary Harvey, AAG has experienced significant exponential growth to become recognised not only as a pioneering global influence on the advancement of CNC routing/cutting technology but also contemporaneously one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-performance CNC machining solutions. These are supplied via a network of strategically located machine assembly and distribution centres, including Telford, Shropshire in the UK.
To mark this seminal date, AAG will until 15th May be running a series of special promotions, including unprecedented discounted pricing, for its AXYZ and WARDJet machines, together with new customer support initiatives for the radically upgraded CNCShop e-commerce spare parts, accessories and consumables 24/7 online resource.
Of particular appeal to AAG customers will be the compelling price discounts available on AXYZ and WARDjet machines. These represent savings of 20 percent and 10 percent respectively, with every machine suppled packed with a raft of both standard and optional machine enhancements to enable increased productivity levels.
There are now over 10,000 AAG machine installations worldwide supplied to a diverse range of industries. These include primarily those in the furniture production, general woodworking and engineering, signage and graphics manufacturing, metal and plastics fabrication, packaging and print finishing sectors, founded on long-running and successful business partnerships forged between AAG and its customers.
Unrivalled speed, consistency and ease-of-use from new Keyence measurement system
Measurement specialist Keyence has further enhanced its leading dimension measurement system range which delivers all the benefits of the acclaimed IM-7000 series but with even greater speed, accuracy and ease-of-use.
Boasting a rotary unit allowing 360-degree multi-surface measurement capability for both turned and machined parts, the IM-8000 is fitted with a 20-megapixel CMOS, more than three times that of conventional systems, as well as a new algorithm for stable edge detection. In addition to the new CMOS, the screen is now larger and features enhanced resolution.
As well as standard metrics, the IM-8000 can perform a whole range of new measurements including symmetry, plane measurements, flatness, cylindricity, coaxiality and run-out, delivering new data visualisations including roundness graphs. This makes it suitable for parts with even the most complex geometries.
Able to measure more than 300 dimensions per part, the system starts to measure automatically as soon as the object is placed on the stage, which now moves at up to 80mm/s, twice as fast as the IM-7000 series, which is itself significantly faster than most alternative systems allowing even more rapid results. Highly precise dimensional measurements can be achieved in as little as 1 second.
The wide field camera now boasts single field of view accuracy of +/-3.9µm, compared with +/- 5µm previously, with this camera and the high precision camera able to be used together in a single program.
No positioning or datum setup is needed, meaning even inexperienced operators can get the most out of the system. Measurements can be rapidly enabled with just a few clicks and it is equally simple to enable virtual lines and points. All of the specified dimensions can then be measured at the touch of a button, with focus automatically adjusted.
Measurement points are automatically identified, meaning the same measurement results are obtained each time, while automated focus adjustment prevents inconsistent values. Up to 100 parts can be measured simultaneously, drastically reducing measurement time when compared with alternative systems.
A highly intuitive programming procedure enables quick and easy selection of the required measurement. An automated diagnostic function assesses the stability of each measurement point during programming, displaying any variations in measured items clearly and simply, making it easier and faster to create program settings.
Meanwhile, the automated measurement function can automatically detect measurement points on parts up to 300 × 200 mm 11.81″ × 7.87″, even if these parts have not previously been measured. An integrated light probe can also measure features at specific heights.
Program files can be rapidly located on the system by placing the QR code from the inspection report on the stage. This ensures correct file selection even in the presence of multiple file types.
Ailsa Morrison, applications engineer for the metrology division at Keyence explains: “Speed, accuracy and ease-of-use are the key attributes being sought from measurement systems by users irrespective of the sector they work in. We have harnessed our measurement expertise to create a system which delivers unrivalled precision but does not require extensive training to obtain the best results. We therefore anticipate strong demand for the IM-8000 from customers in multiple sectors and applications.”
Available options include an IM-specific calibrated graticule to allow users to perform their own verifications. Keyence customers also benefit from regular software updates and extensive after-sales support wherever they are located.
Further information can be found at www.keyence.co.uk/im8000launch
XYZ Machine Tools boosted by record start to 2021
A recent CBI report indicated an increase in output across many sectors of manufacturing, a report backed up by the recent surge in demand for machine tools experienced by XYZ Machine Tools. The Devon-based machine tool manufacturer reported its highest order intake for 18 months in February, only for that figure to be exceeded in March. With the bulk of its extensive range held in stock, machine deliveries saw a similar increase, with over 30 machines being delivered in the last week of March alone.
“The last two months have been extremely encouraging and are confirmation of the positive conversations we have been having with customers since the end of 2020,” says Nigel Atherton, managing director, XYZ Machine Tools. “The increase in business has meant we have reinstated overtime in the factory and employed additional staff for machine assembly, with further recruitment in the pipeline.”
The first quarter of 2021 has proved to be very encouraging and, with the benefit of the Government’s Super Deduction incentive for capital equipment, along with additions to its machine range, XYZ Machine Tools is hopeful that this positive trend will continue to strengthen as 2021 progresses and Covid restrictions continue to recede. XYZ Machine Tools’ already extensive range is being added to with the arrival of new vertical machining centres and increased capacity turning centres, along with the company’s first sub-spindle turning centre the XYZ SS 65.
ES APRIL 2021
ESAB Europe Xpanse virtual welding and cutting event
Featuring 50+ products, expert access and educational classes
Worldwide welding and cutting expert ESAB has announced that from 27th to 29th April it will hold ESAB Europe Xpanse, a virtual event that will showcase the industry’s broadest line-up of new welding and cutting systems, filler metals and related technologies. By visiting www.esabxpanse.com, visitors can tour a virtual trade show stand, chat live with product and process experts, watch videos on products from influencers, participate in ESAB University online classes and take a walk through its hall of history. Materials for the event will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish.
“ESAB Europe Xpanse is the antidote to the typical Teams meeting or Zoom call,” says Cheron Robinson, regional MARCOM manager Europe. “We are taking the concept of a virtual trade show to a new level and will provide an industry-first-of-its-kind immersive experience to introduce dozens of new welding and cutting products. Until we can gather in person, there will be no other event to rival the resources available at ESAB Europe Xpanse.”
A virtual stand
ESAB Europe Xpanse mimics the company’s real-world trade show stand, which features different product and technology centres to explore. Visitors can tour the stand with their mouse and keyboard, use an overhead map view to visit specific areas or take a guided tour based on preference. Because in-person gatherings are not an option in the era, ESAB has created more than 50 videos with its product and technology experts. During show hours, from 9 a.m-8 p.m. CET, the Xpanse stand is staffed with experts to answer questions via a built-in chat function.
To learn more about a product, visitors can download product fact sheets, brochures and watch influencer videos. Additional content is available in a carousel-style photo album, offering a multitude of product photos such as the operator interface, accessories and other key product features.
The virtual event also features ESAB University, ESAB’s extremely popular dedicated learning area in its real-world trade show stands. The complete calendar of events is available at www.esabxpanse.com.
“Courses will be made available to stream immediately after they premiere,” explains Cheron Robinson. “All of the ESAB University classes will be staffed with live personnel to answer questions real-time, encourage feedback and create community with our participants. By connecting our people, processes and technology, we aim to show visitors how they can shape the future of their business with ESAB as their partner.”
Featured product areas
ESAB will highlight the following product areas and much more during ESAB Europe Xpanse:
- Cutting automation: ESAB will showcase a variety of cutting automation solutions, such as the new Hydrocut™ HDX large-gantry waterjet cutting system and Auto Drill 30 fully automated drilling system.
- Heavy industrial systems: For productivity, reliability and energy-efficient operation the most demanding applications, ESAB has introduced the Warrior® 750i CC/CV power source, 750 amps at 100 percent duty cycle, Aristo® 500ix CC/CV pulsing power source and Fabricator EM 401i, 401iw and EM 501iw inverters.
- Wire feeders: The new Robust Feed Pulse and Robust Feed U6 wire feeders offer the industry’s only IP44 “rain proof” rating, provide unmatched durability and provide shop-level performance and control in a durable and highly portable package.
- Torches: Recently introduced torches include the gas-cooled MXH 315PP and water-cooled MXH 420W PP push-pull systems created for Robust Feed Pulse and Aristo Feed 3004 wire feeders.
- Portable MMA and TIG inverters: Rogue is a news series of compact and lightweight, less than 10 kg, MMA/TIG inverters that will cause users to re-think their perception of power, arc performance, control functions and price.
- Manual plasma cutters: The ESAB Cutmaster® 40 manual plasma cutting system offers a rated output of 40 amps at 35 percent duty-cycle and an outstanding power-to-weight ratio. For an advanced LCD interface that simplifies setup and operation, consider the HandyPlasma 35i and HandyPlasma 45i manual plasma machines.
- PPE: The Savage A40 Air with Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) technology provides heavy duty protection from welding fume and particulates and features the radical styling and optical performance of the Sentinel A50.
- Filler metals: ESAB new filler metals include Shield Bright NiCrMo3-T1, a 625-type electrode for manual and automatic flux cored wide-weave welding; a new series of B3 SC electrodes for SMAW, GTAW and SAW for 2.25 percent Cr 1 percent Mo alloyed steels, SA-387 Grade 22, A335 Grade P22 or similar materials; OK AristoRod 38 Zn wire to solve porosity and spatter issues in galvanised steel applications and OK Goldrox, a rutile MMA electrode that provides a stable arc that leaves almost no spatter; and Exaton filler metals for duplex, hyper duplex and super duplex stainless steels.
- Digital solutions: ESAB’s updated suite of online data management and analytic application to improve productivity and uptime includes: WeldCloud Productivity for operation and production managers, WeldCloud Fleet for service and maintenance manager’s and WeldCloud Notes for quality control and documentation. A new WeldCloud Connect application and Zebra handheld smart device/scanner make using WeldCloud even easier.
- Continuous tube and pipe welding: HKS Prozesstechnik, an ESAB brand, has introduced its ThermoProfilScanner (TPS) for non-destructive testing (NDT) solution. TPS utilises the seam’s thermal profile for weld flaw detection, documentation and traceability.
- Mechanised welding: For automated movement of GMAW, FCAW or plasma torches, ESAB offers a full suite of compact battery-operated tractors, including the Miggytrac B501, which now features digital controls and a precision AC stepper motor.
At ESAB, we exist to shape the future of welding and cutting. We connect fabricators with the widest range of products under our industry-leading brand portfolio with the latest technologies to solve virtually any industry challenge, then we back it up with our knowledge, experience and passion to help them be more productive than ever before. To learn more about ESAB Europe Xpanse, visit www.esabxpanse.com.
UK subcontractors report positive outlook and look ahead to post-COVID boom
The UK’s subcontract manufacturing sector appears to have weathered the COVID storm and is emerging from lockdown with exceptionally strong sales pipelines, according to a cross-section of the industry’s leaders.
The positive outlook is leading many to accelerated investment plans and conversely, leading to increasing concerns about the robustness of supply chains and skills availability.
Chris Shield, director of Shield Group, a provider of machining and assembly solutions to the power generation, off-highway, construction and automotive industries, with facilities across the Midlands and North of England says the business outlook is very positive.
“The pipeline is very strong and we’re feeling a lot more positive compared to six months ago now that the situation with regards to COVID and Brexit is clearer. It makes us more confident about investing further.”
Chris Shield says Brexit uncertainty was a drag on the business, but since the turn of the year the outlook is much more positive: “Up until the 1st of January the uncertainty was a real negative, however European customers are now viewing the UK as a good source and we are seeing many more enquiries and interest. Our only concerns are finding people with the right skills and the capacity of the foundry supply chain to get us the raw materials.”
His sentiments, echoed by Andrew Whitham of Brooks Ltd, a Manchester-based subcontract manufacturer of gears, sprockets, shafts and adapted transmission chains, are typical of the positive mood that is surrounding UK manufacturing.
“We’ve enjoyed a period of sustained growth and investment despite the challenges of COVID and lockdowns. Our key industry sectors are growing and our investment strategy has just about been able to keep up with the increased demand. The sales pipeline is very strong and our only concern is finding the right skills for our business and the robustness of the supply chain.”
Andrew Whitham believes that the decision to continue with investment in new technology has been pivotal to the company’s success: “We’ve spent more in the last 12 months than at any other point in the company’s history, well over £1,000,000. We firmly believe one of the factors behind our increased turnover has been our willingness to invest in new machinery and technology.”
John Hyde of John Hyde Engineering, a Stoke-on-Trent-based subcontract machining and production engineering services provider to some of the world’s biggest names in plant, machinery, earth moving, and engine building, is also increasingly optimistic: “We’re more positive than six months ago and the pipeline is looking increasingly strong. We’re benefiting from some reshoring of operations back to the UK, but finding CNC machinists with the necessary skills and sourcing raw materials are a challenge.”
Alan Mucklow, managing director UK and Ireland sales and service at Yamazaki Mazak, says the optimism of the subcontracting sector is a much-needed boost for UK manufacturing: “The subcontracting sector, one of the backbones of UK manufacturing, has largely weathered the COVID storm. It is very striking when I talk to customers how positive the outlook is, particularly the strength of the new business pipeline.
“I’ve been particularly impressed by the continued willingness to invest in new technology which has put many subcontractors in a very strong position to take advantage of any upturn. With the announcement of the capital allowance super deduction announced in the Budget, which effectively offers a 25p reduction in Corporation Tax for every pound invested in machines, I would expect this commitment to investment to accelerate further. Coupled with the increased certainty with regard to our trading relationship with Europe and with COVID in retreat, the future looks very positive.”
TRUMPF enters into close partnership with Lantek and expands software business
The high-tech company TRUMPF has acquired the software house Lantek and thus focuses on software in sheet metal processing that runs independently of the machine manufacturer.
“TRUMPF is opening up to customers’ production ecosystems with this acquisition,” says Tom Schneider, managing director of machine tool development at TRUMPF. “Our customers’ process is our focus; with Lantek, we comprehensively cover the sheet metal process chain, even with machines from different manufacturers. In this way, we are taking another big step toward efficient and connected sheet metal production and enriching the Smart Factory solution portfolio.”
After participating in the development of umati, the open machine data interface, the development of Omlox, the open positioning standard and the cooperation with intralogistics expert Jungheinrich on automated guided vehicles, the cooperation with Lantek is a consistent step towards process optimisation and connectivity for the sheet metal production of the future.
“We are looking forward to cooperating closely with TRUMPF. Lantek has been leading the sheet metal software for 35 years thanks to its ability to bring the best manufacturing solutions to any cutting machine and this will continue to be our goal, assuring interconnectivity and independency between machine tool builders. Our customers benefit from a close exchange in the key technologies of the future AI, data models and holistic process control. This enables us to bundle our competencies and develop software for the future of sheet metal production in an even more open and customer-oriented way in the future,“ says Alberto López de Biñaspre, CEO of Lantek.
The family-owned software specialist Lantek was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The company operates worldwide with 20 locations in 14 countries. More than 220 employees develop, implement, and maintain software for sheet metal and metalworking with any cutting technologies. This includes CAD, CAM, MES and ERP solutions.
Lantek will continue to operate under its current name. An integration under the TRUMPF brand is not planned and Lantek continues committed to neutrality and independence from all machine tool builders.
Both companies have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the month.
Lantek is a multinational that is leading the digital transformation of companies in the sheet metal and metal industry. With its smart manufacturing software, it enables factories to be connected, turning them into Smart Factories. It rounds off its range of services with CAD, CAM, MES, and ERP solutions for companies that manufacture metal parts from sheet metal, tubes, and profiles using any cutting technology.
Founded in 1986 in the Basque Country, Spain, one of the main European centers of machine tool development, it enables the integration of sheet metal and metal processing technologies with the most advanced manufacturing control software. The company is currently one of the outstanding leaders in its sector thanks to its capacity for innovation and commitment to internationalisation. With more than 25,700 customers in over 100 countries and 20 offices in 14 countries, it has an extensive network of distributors with an international presence. In 2020, its international business contributed to 88 percent of its revenue.
The high-technology company TRUMPF offers production solutions in the machine tool and laser sectors. It is driving digital connectivity in manufacturing industry through consulting, platform and software offers. TRUMPF is a leader for machine tools used in flexible sheet metal processing and also for industrial lasers.
TRUMPF Group is represented in nearly all the countries of Europe, North and South America, and Asia. It has production facilities in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, the USA, Mexico, China and Japan.
For more information about TRUMPF go to: www.trumpf.com
For more information about Lantek visit: www.lantek.com
Bromford reaches for the sky with MSC
As part of the Bromford Group, Bromford Industries Ltd in Leicester is a Tier 1 manufacturer that specialises in the Industrial Gas Turbines (IGT), power generation and aerospace sectors. As a Tier 1 supplier to the world’s most demanding industry sectors and OEMs, the Bromford Group has to balance the delicacies of continuous improvement, innovation and of course, the scrutiny of year-on-year ‘cost-down’ pressure. That is why the prestigious company has a long-term contract in place with MSC Industrial Supply Co., a leading, national distributor of metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations supplies known for providing high levels of service and engineering expertise.
As part of the long-term consumable supply contract with MSC, the experts in cutting tools focused on a goal to achieve a minimum turnover percentage of year-on-year ‘cost down’ improvements. MSC has an extensive product range that is often a necessity for making significant factory-wide ‘cost down’ gains at OEM and Tier 1 businesses as they consolidate their extensive and poor service supply chain. With its access to thousands of brands and hundreds of thousands of product lines that are all supported by technical experts, MSC has continually driven impressive ‘cost down’ results and productivity improvements for each of the four Bromford Group sites in the UK.
With integrated vending stations, continuity of cutting tool supply is guaranteed; but MSC never rests, its service to its customers goes beyond just supplying a product. It is always striving to innovate and improve performance at Bromford. Sometimes, this commitment is pushed beyond the bounds of convention with the Bromford Group competing on the global stage for new projects, as global aerospace primes push capacity and innovation from one continent to another.
MSC steps up to the challenge
To manufacture the initial batch of four Inconel 718 aerospace engine components for one of these prestigious customers, MSC applied its technical expertise, drawing from the industries largest team of application engineers, to ensure the complex components could be manufactured to specifications, and on time. With cutting tool datasheets from the US being obsolete due to the tools being unavailable, the MSC experts started from scratch and identified 14 different cutting tools from a variety of suppliers to undertake the three operations and meet the specified deadlines. Machining the four components on a Doosan Puma 12L turning centre, the MSC solution succeeded in meeting the Bromford deadline for the initial tests.
Continuous improvement strategy
With the initial batch complete and the competency to machine the parts proved, MSC application engineer Rob Smith knew better results could be achieved. With the second batch of eight parts pending, the MSC technical expert re-visited the engine components, the cutting tools and respective machining strategies. The recommendation was a switch to ceramic cutting tools for the rough turning and grooving operations.
Rob Smith says: “At the start of 2020, MSC formed a relationship with world-leading Japanese ceramic tooling brand NTK and we knew the different physical properties of ceramic tooling would yield impressive results on heat resistant aerospace grade alloys. By nature, ceramic tooling is more brittle and susceptible to breakages if not managed with the correct machining strategy but, on the other hand, it can machine at speeds and feeds 10 to 15 times higher than carbide tooling. We collaborated with Simon Huxtable from NTK and the proposed strategy was to first remove the CNMG and SNMG carbide inserts and replace them with a round RNGN insert from NTK’s SX9 portfolio. The SiAlON grade that combines silicon nitride ceramic and alumina ceramic is claimed to be perfect for machining heat-resistant alloys at parameters way beyond carbide, so we put it to the test.”
“We chose to partner with MSC six years ago and ever since they’ve been an extension to our business. Because continuous improvement is important to us, we are always looking to make our processes better. With MSC, we know their engineers have the knowledge and expertise to help us achieve our goals. Having witnessed on-site trials in which cost-savings are documented and seeing how they utilise their extensive network of suppliers, assures me that MSC will always recommend the most efficient processes and tooling. This project is one of the many ways MSC has worked with us to seek innovative opportunities for improvement; they are a supply partner who wants us to succeed as much as we do,” says Andrew Moore, engineering and product quality manager at Bromford Industries Limited
After Increasing the surface speed from 43 m/min to 250 m/min with a feed rate increase from 18 m/min to 106 m/min, the results soon followed. Rough turning the face and diameter of the 150 mm diameter workpiece, the NTK SX9 RNGN insert not only replaced two previous carbide tools and eliminated the respective tool changeover, but it also slashed cycle times from 180 minutes to 27 minutes for the roughing operation. While the previous carbide tooling method delivered a significant improvement on the original parameters from the overseas plant, the application of NTK’s SX9 ceramic inserts made a huge step forward from the method initially instigated by MSC.
As Rob Smith continues: “At MSC, we conduct extensive benchmarking analysis and we have calculated that Bromford would require 312 SX9 inserts to complete a run of 312 parts compared to a requirement of 470 CNMG carbide inserts and an additional 78 SNMG inserts. The NTK insert is achieving a tool life at least 2.5 times better than the previous carbide grade whilst accelerating cycle times to levels never before seen at Bromford.”
As the MSC national account manager for the Bromford Group, Lewis Evans says: “Our engineers have demonstrated both our extensive portfolio of available solutions with the recent inclusion of NTK, but also the technical expertise to integrate relatively new brands into MSC accounts where they will make significant impacts.”
“We have completed the initial batches of 4, then 8 and now 41. On the batch of 41 parts, we have created a significant 5-figure financial saving for Bromford and this has arrived by reducing annual tooling costs by 67 percent, machining costs by 85 percent and tool changeover costs by 34 percent. Whilst these statistics are hugely impressive, one of the most stand-out points is that we have reduced machine hours for this single part by 85 percent from 1060 hours to just 158 hours. This gives the customer additional machine capacity for undertaking other projects.’’
ES MARCH 2021
Metrology partnership brings Vision to CMM market
Vision Engineering has announced that it is partnering with metrology innovator Aberlink to add the first contact-only measurement system, DELTRON, to its range of metrology systems.
Designed for robustness, reliability, affordability and ease-of-use, Deltron is a shop floor hardened non-cartesian CMM with an innovative delta robotic mechanism, known for repeatable motion, fast acceleration and a high level of measurement accuracy. The delta mechanism on Deltron operates with a maximum vector speed of 500 mm/sec and a maximum vector acceleration of 750 mm/sec2.
Deltron is built with temperature sensors which ensure the measurement results are as though they were performed at 20 degrees C. This means the system can be positioned anywhere it is needed, next to a machine tool, in a manufacturing cell, or used in a dedicated inspection area.
The cylindrical measuring volume of the system is 370 mm (14.5”) diameter x 270mm (10.6”) in height. The measuring accuracy of 2.6 + 0.4L/100 μm incorporates 0.1 μm resolution scales and a granite base supports parts up to 200 kg (440 lbs). Delivered with ViTouch3D, a powerful and easy-to-use software, suitable for a range of abilities.
Deltron is the result of a new partnership between Vision Engineering, and Aberlink Ltd, the largest UK-owned manufacturer of co-ordinate measuring machines, vision measuring systems and measurement software. Both Vision Engineering and Aberlink are well known manufacturers in their respective markets and the collaboration will allow both companies to extend their coverage of the global metrology market.
Güven Türemen, Vision Engineering’s group commercial metrology manager says: “We are delighted to partner with Aberlink in adding Deltron to our growing metrology product range, the first of a number of collaborative and innovative products between our companies.“
“We use Aberlink CMM technology in our own manufacturing facilities in Surrey, UK and in Connecticut, USA. We know how important it is to have a robust and easy to use CMM in the heart of our machine shop to ensure consistent quality and compliance. Our emphasis has always been on ergonomics and ease-of-use in a production environment. Aberlink have taken delta positioning technology, widely used in automation, to create a true shop floor product for use close to the point of manufacture, by production engineers.”
Vision Engineering Ltd is a global leading-edge designer and manufacturer of patented ergonomic stereo optical and digital instruments, used for inspection, manipulation, measurement and analysis of manufactured parts, by most of the world’s leading manufacturers and their extended supply chains.
Vision Engineering’s contract manufacturing division offers comprehensive contract manufacturing, design and commercialisation packages, giving customers access to the latest technology, as well as a team of experienced designers and engineers.
Founded in 1958 and wholly British owned, Vision Engineering’s Global HQ, design and manufacturing facilities are based in state-of-the-art modern premises in Woking, Surrey, UK, with extensive manufacturing facilities in the UK and US. Regional sales and tech support offices are located throughout North America, Europe and Asia, supported by a fully trained network of distributors.
Unison tube bender makes light work of SST’s life-saving Halo system and other titanium structures
Investing in a Unison Breeze all-electric CNC tube bending machine has not only assisted Oxfordshire-based SST Technology in becoming the only British-based precision fabricator authorised to produce the life-saving Halo titanium driver protection system, as used in Formula 1, it has also equipped the business to complete numerous complex structural projects involving titanium tube including roll-cage structures for military vehicles and aerospace components.
The machine, a Unison Breeze 130 mm ‘large diameter’ multi-stack tube bender, was purchased to help SST produce high-performance optimal-flow exhaust systems for Formula 1, IndyCar and other motorsport sectors. With a pedigree in motorsport components and a powerful new tube bending machine to hand, however, SST’s thoughts quickly turned to driver safety. The exceptionally tight material control, production parameters and dimensional tolerances provided by the all-electric Unison Breeze tube bender, combined with SST’s considerable experience in the development and manufacture of ultra-precise fabrications, led to the company’s Halo design securing FIA conformity for use in Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula E motorsport and being adopted by several race teams. SST’s Halo design requires the precise bending of titanium tube of 4 mm wall thickness.
Notoriously difficult to bend
Titanium, however, is notoriously difficult to bend. With low uniform elongation typically requiring a much greater bend radii than other metals, titanium does not readily lend itself to being formed; a characteristic that makes creating tubular structures for aerospace and motorsport applications particularly challenging. For successful tube forming, the material must be compressed on the inside of the bend and stretched on the outside, while wall thinning and ovality of the tube have to be kept to very tight tolerances. Traditionally, ‘hot bending’, a process involving the use of super-heated tooling, has been used to overcome the challenges of bending titanium. However, the very process of hot bending presents a number of issues. For example, the use of super-heated tooling requires considerable care and can present a hazard to operators; complex modifications must be made to bending machinery, and tooling heat-up times are lengthy. By contrast, Unison’s infinitely controllable and robust all-electric machines enable the safe, precise cold bending of titanium. With advice and application support from the technical team at Unison Ltd, SST were therefore able to develop a cold-bending process for their Halo design that allowed for the low elongation of the metal and delivered precise results.
“To successfully cold-bend titanium, factors such as material quality, tooling configuration, machine design and flexibility of control need to be considered,” comments Unison key account manager, Steve Haddrell. “This is because any variation in material quality, any lack of rigidity in the mechanics of the bending machine and any failure to achieve repeatability time after time will invariably lead to failure. With exceptional power, optimal rigidity, precise mechanical motion and all-electric control for accurate, effortless repeatability, we knew the 130 mm Breeze was the ideal machine for precision-bending SST’s Halo design. With material quality assured, it really came down to working with SST to establish the correct tooling configuration and programming of the Unison Unibend machine operating system.”
Delivering significant benefits
“Investing in the 130 mm Unison Breeze machine has clearly paid dividends,” says SST Technology’s group business development director, Daniel Chilcott. “Tool changes are rapid, programming is incredibly user friendly, while the automatic setup ensures uncompromising levels of accuracy and repeatability. Sufficiently impressed with the capabilities of our 130 mm machine, we have also purchased a smaller 65 mm Breeze model for the production of more intricate pipework and parts for aerospace and gas turbine applications. Combining this capability with our AS9100REVD accreditation means we are perfectly set up to support leading aerospace propulsion, fluid and air system OEMs.”
Intelligent tube manipulation
The Unison Breeze 130 mm tube bender purchased by SST is well suited to manipulating exotic alloys such as titanium and Inconel, as well as Super-Duplex stainless steels and provides high-quality thin wall bending. Multi-stack tooling allows the most complex of parts to be formed in one uninterrupted manufacturing cycle, while Unison’s bar code scanning system ensures that only the correct tooling is installed. The standard-fit rise and fall pressure die can result in significant savings in tooling costs and allows tools of very different radii to be used on a part within a cycle. The tube bender can be programmed manually or from CAD data using industry-standard IGES or STEP files.
“At Unison, we are often invited to advise customers on particularly challenging tube bending projects,” concludes Steve Haddrell. “That’s partly because of the immense capabilities offered by our tube bending machines. Assisting SST on establishing the optimal tooling configuration of their Unison Breeze machine for the production of the life-saving Halo device, however, is one of the most rewarding projects we have been involved in.”
ES FEBRUARY 2021
ESPRIT announces new on-demand Learning Center for programmers
ESPRIT, the industry’s trusted CAM software for CNC programming, optimisation and simulation, has announced the debut release of its on-demand training platform, ESPRIT Learning Center, to the general public.
Traditionally, ESPRIT’s applications engineers lead in-person trainings in ESPRIT offices as well as on-site at customer facilities around the world. While application engineers offer some of the best CAM courses in the industry, the ESPRIT team understands that not everyone who needs software training has the resources to travel to an ESPRIT office.
To support customers throughout the pandemic, ESPRIT began conducting instructor-led, online training sessions in early 2020. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. To further satisfy users’ growing appetite for high-quality online training, ESPRIT now introduces the ESPRIT Learning Center to the general public.
The ESPRIT Learning Center is an online training platform with on-demand, self-paced training courses created specifically for ESPRIT CAM programmers. ESPRIT’s top engineers and instructors have poured a huge amount of effort and energy into creating these courses. The first learning paths to be released are “New User Milling,” “New User Turning,” and “New User Mill-Turn.” Each learning path includes five to seven training courses that guide users through several different machine models and part models to introduce different machining processes in ESPRIT.
The main purpose for creating discrete online learning paths is to replicate what a student can learn from an on-site training class. Users may take the course anywhere, and at any time. ESPRIT customers can learn at their own pace while saving the time and cost associated with traveling. Each learning path also comes with one ESPRIT student license for each learner, so users can take the courses at home or in their free time, without interrupting their daily programming or production work.
“ESPRIT Learning Center gives us the exact learning experience that we’ve been looking for. The courses are very thorough, wasting no time getting to the point. Having all the supplied files and models within the course window makes access quick and convenient.” says Scott Hornbeak, programmer at Cassavant Machining. “This online training will not only make it easier for existing ESPRIT users to transition to the new ESPRIT, it will also help our new programmers rapidly get familiar with ESPRIT, without the need to travel to a training site.”
“ESPRIT Learning Center is a game-changer for our customers who want to learn ESPRIT,” says Yijun Fan, director of product mat DP Technology, the maker of ESPRIT. “Our end goal is to make high-quality ESPRIT training courses more accessible to our global customers. We want to share our best practices with users so they can optimise their machine programming to reduce the cycle time, machine setup time, and machine downtime. We want our users’ machines to start running as soon as possible and keep running at the highest efficiency, and that’s always going to be our priority at DP Technology.”
To learn more about the ESPRIT Learning Center, visit: https://www.espritcam.com/learningcenter
ESPRIT and DP Technology Corp
DP Technology Corp. is a leading developer and supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. ESPRIT®, DP Technology’s flagship product, is a powerful CAM system for CNC programming, optimisation, and simulation, supporting the entire manufacturing process. With factory-certified post processors delivering machine-optimized G-code and ESPRIT’s ability to solve unique challenges with automation solutions, ESPRIT is the smart manufacturing solution for any machining application. With world-class technical support, ESPRIT empowers you to get started quickly and keep running at top efficiency. ESPRIT is the only CAM system you’ll ever need.
DP Technology reinforces its commitment to technical excellence by dedicating nearly 20 percent of its annual revenue to ongoing research and product development. This long-term focus has produced powerful technological innovations that have placed ESPRIT in an industry-leading position since its market launch in 1985.
ITC Celebrates 30 years of UK manufacturing
30 Years on and the company founders get together again
All businesses will be glad to draw a line under 2020 and move into 2021, but for Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC) 2021 will be a landmark year as the UK cutting tool manufacturer celebrates 30 years of business. Here, we take a look back at 30 years of ITC and how this prestigious UK manufacturer has grown over the last three decades, a brand that will be celebrating its anniversary with several 2021 special offers for manufacturers to look out for.
The history of ITC dates back to the late 1980s where the three founders of ITC, Peter Graves, Roy Talbot and Bob Unsworth all worked together at Insley Industrial, the UK agent for US-based Metal Removal Company, one of the first suppliers of carbide tooling in the UK and the world. Following several late 80’s mergers and acquisitions, the Metal Removal brand that was the preferred choice of several prominent airspace and aero-engine manufacturers was looking for a new UK distributor and the three entrepreneurs spotted their opportunity.
Taking up the story, managing director Peter Graves says: “Bob, Roy and myself spoke with Metal Removal and we became the new UK agents, all leaving our jobs simultaneously to set up ITC. We had a business plan, spoke with accountants and got a bank loan to start the company with backing from Metal Removal, which included a bonded warehouse in Northamptonshire. In the early days, we provided the orders to Metal Removal and they dispatched products from the bonded warehouse, so we only paid for the products we sold.”
“The reason we ended up renting a small office in Tamworth is that Bob lived in Bolton, and covered the North, Roy was from the Midlands and I lived near Watford, and covered the South. It was geographically central and it was close to Rolls-Royce in Derby. It all started in January 1991 and there were the three of us, plus two other team members answering the phones. In the early days, our previous employer was trying to disrupt our business and it was a challenging period, but Metal Removal supported us throughout, and after a difficult start, the business started to grow. We bought some stock that crammed our small office before we moved to a larger unit.”
“After two to three years, the business grew and Therese and Lisa joined (they are still here today), we recruited our first technical salesmen, and gradually set upon our growth trajectory. We then added another brand, Vallorbe Swiss HSS end mills, and around 1995 we heard that Hanita was also looking for a UK agent. We got in touch with them and they invited us to Israel. We were taken back by the energy and R&D investment in the company. By the late 1990s, we had these independent brands on board, but Metal Removal was then bought by Kennametal and within another year or two, Hanita was also acquired by Kennametal. Naturally, the relationship evolved from dealing with smaller independent companies to a multinational group, but it was probably a stroke of luck for us that the same group bought both companies.”
A change in the market
“These companies were both supplying solid carbide cutting tools, while at the time solid carbide was still building its reputation, as in the early days before its quantum leap forward, it was often thought of as a brittle material, easy to chip or break. The changes to solid carbide over 50 years have been unbelievable. Back when I started selling solid carbide Metal Removal products, they were very expensive and there was no discount. At the time, there were very few companies actively selling solid carbide. So, for companies acknowledging the benefits, it was a relatively captive market. The Metal Removal range always remained a standard product offering of two, three and four flute end mills and drills whereas Hanita pushed the boundaries of product development and performance. With the Vallorbe range primarily HSS, this eventually died off. At this point during the late ’90s, we also bought our first machine.”
Making the Transition to Manufacturing
“After being in business for eight or nine years, we were spending a lot of money on modifications and regrinds, sending tools to an external grinding company. For a relatively small business, this was a significant expense for us. We ‘chewed the fat’ on whether we should buy a grinding machine and subsequently visited MACH. We ended up on the Walter stand, but at that point, we hadn’t made any concrete decisions. A while later, we were in the office discussing the Walter machines and quite spookily the Walter rep was knocking the door following up the MACH leads. It felt like fate, and for Keith Villiers, the Walter sales rep, the timing was perfect.
We eventually bought a Helitronic MiniPower, which was our first machine, along with two Deckel S11 manual machines and an S5 for necking. These were soon followed by a Schneeberger Gemini CNC. We had a small lock-up, the size of a triple garage, with three skilled men running the machines. All of these machines were bought for modifications and re-grinds with a lot of work being radiusing, reducing diameters and step drills. Even at that early point, Metal Removal supported us by adding the radius to a lot of the tools to help us win business. Nowadays, we do all of the modifications and radii on tools in-house.”
“Coming up to 2000, we were busy running the business and selling tools so we employed Paul Marriott as our first production manager and he’s still with us more than 20 years later, albeit in a different role. It was at this time we realised we were running out of space and we then moved to our existing site, which used to be a pet food storage facility. We needed more office space, more storage space and the capacity to add more machine tools. Having a larger facility allowed us to run a centralised cooling system for all the machines.”
The birth of ITC Tools
“Manufacturing our tools probably started in the 90s with our subcontract supplier manufacturing products for us as well as undertaking the re-grinding and modification of existing tools. However, it was when we moved to our current facility that we started to introduce our own product lines. We are currently on issue 15 of our product catalogue and this annual catalogue has grown year on year. We realised we needed our product catalogue and the need to publish this was expedited by Metal Removal deciding to stop publishing their product catalogue. We started publishing a catalogue full of Metal Removal products and we started adding our product lines into the catalogue. Over the years, the catalogue has grown and nearly all of the products are our own with Metal Removal products playing an ever-decreasing role.”
The evolution of a leading UK manufacturer
“Since we started, we have changed from being an importer and distributor to being one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of cutting tools. We now have a huge range of tools for all applications. You only have to look at the sign-making industry and the huge variety of tools we make there. We are the largest manufacturer of cutting tools to the sign-making industry by a considerable margin and we are forever developing new tools. To do this we have invested in a routing machine to do research and development of tools for this industry.
“As we have evolved, we have continually outgrown our facility. We managed to buy an adjacent facility about six or seven years ago, so we could move our stores and add more machines. This gave us a couple more years before we had to decide on a location. For more than 10 years, we had been waiting for the right opportunity to buy the unit next door. We eventually obtained the premises next door and by adding the two facilities, we have now more than doubled our floor area. We now have more than 25 CNC grinding machines for producing cutting tools, but we also have three Helicheck inspection machines and various other production machines for blanking. We have even invested in new machines to manufacture cutting tools from 0.1mm up to 40mm diameter and beyond. The investment in our ‘micro’ setup has cost us more than £1 million but it is paying dividends as the micro grinding machine is always busy and predominantly manufacturing tools below 1 mm diameter.”
Extending the portfolio
Over the last 20 years, ITC has continually evolved its product lines with the sign-making tools and the micro-cutting tools being perfect examples. Boasting one of the most diverse and high-quality product offerings in the industry is something that ITC has worked tirelessly to achieve and this has seen the addition of WIDIA and BIG KAISER to the ITC portfolio.
Peter Graves continues: “Kennametal also bought the WIDIA brand, and WIDIA is one of the world’s first manufacturers and longest established brands in the carbide cutting tool industry. Following the acquisition, Kennametal recognised the strength of the WIDIA brand and resurrected it and added the Hanita portfolio to WIDIA and this is where our connection with WIDIA started almost 15 years ago. As the Hanita agent, we became the WIDIA agent by default, or essentially the WIDIA/Hanita agent in the UK.”
“We had always been recognised as a solid carbide cutting tool specialist and the opportunity to supply indexable tools was something we had long considered, and that opportunity arrived via WIDIA over six years ago. The skill and mindset of selling indexable products compared to solid carbide is somewhat different and we recognised that we needed additional staff. WIDIA was very keen for us to sell the products in the UK, and we now have five sales and applications engineers dedicated to indexable product lines.”
Soon after commencing with indexable tooling sales for WIDIA, the company started to work with BIG KAISER. Recalling the conversation with Peter Poulson from BIG KAISER, Peter Graves recalls: “Out of the blue, I got a call from Peter at BIG KAISER, and while I didn’t know him, I certainly knew the name BIG KAISER, as most engineers do. Peter wanted to come to the UK and discuss the opportunity for ITC to be the new UK distributor for BIG KAISER, but I was a little sceptical whether BIG KAISER sales would take off as, despite the products having exemplary quality and innovation, they had the reputation of being a bit on the pricey side. But I have been proven wrong! Customers are prepared to pay for the innovation and quality and, like the WIDIA indexable range, it has opened new doors for our business. It also makes ITC a complete solution integrator for manufacturing businesses.”
Following an industrial career that spans almost 40 years, Peter Graves has seen more change than most. Giving his overview of industry evolution in the cutting tool industry, he says: “The global purchasing of products has come to the fore in recent times. When we started, we were supplying all end users directly, but with the arrival of integrators, many cutting tool manufacturers like ITC have had to work with third-party companies. Somebody once said that in the future there will only be five or six cutting tool companies; what they actually meant was that large companies will continually buy the smaller businesses and integrators will continually play a larger role as OEMs look towards the ‘single source’ model.
ITC has also had several approaches down the years from some very large companies. Another thing that has changed down the years is competition from outside the UK, and even more so from outside Europe. Years ago, the majority of cutting tool companies supplying UK manufacturers were either from the UK, Europe or the US, but now there are increasingly more competitors from the Far East.”
“We have always dealt directly with end-users rather than go via distributors, as we can offer better service and expertise. Inevitably there will always be customers that will adopt the integrated model, and we happily work with that, but we are first and foremost a solution provider. We are loyal to our customers and our suppliers and that is something we will never relinquish. We undertake an annual customer survey and the one thing the results always return is that we have a really good team of people and we give brilliant solutions and products.
“We may not always be the cheapest, but most people realise they are paying for the engineer to arrive and solve their problems. There will always be companies that will just buy on price, and we realise we always have to be competitive, but our quality, service and reputation are the fundamental cornerstones of what has made ITC a successful business for 30 years,” concludes Peter Graves.
EuroBLECH 2021 postponed
EuroBLECH 2021 postponed: 26th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition will take place from 25 – 28 October 2022 in Hannover, Germany
Mack Brooks Exhibitions has today announced the postponement of EuroBLECH, which was scheduled to take place at the Hannover Exhibition Grounds in Germany from 9 to 12 March 2021. The next EuroBLECH, 26th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, will return to its normal event cycle and run from 25 – 28 October 2022. This decision was taken in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and following conversations with all exhibitors and partners that have taken place over the past weeks and months. Uncertainties around continued travel restrictions were also a contributing factor to this decision due to the truly international character of the EuroBLECH show.
Speaking about the announcement, Nicola Hamann, Managing Director of Mack-Brooks Exhibitions said: “Following extensive conversations with all participants we have come to the decision to return to our normal event cycle and hold the next show in its original event slot. Based on the current international developments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, covering further lockdown and travel restrictions, we believe that it is the most responsible decision at this stage to postpone. This early announcement will hopefully allow time for the impact of COVID-19 across the world to stabilise and when safe to do so, ensure that the event can continue its critical role in bringing the global sheet metal working industry together again. By making this decision now we allow for planning security, EuroBLECH will return to its initial event schedule and will therefore be back strong in 2022”.
“With the recent launch of the EuroBLECH Digital Innovation Summit we have laid the foundation stone for a hybrid approach to our EuroBLECH Event, which will enable us to run a series of digital events in 2021 for the sheet metal working industry. As a result, EuroBLECH as we know it will be back for all participants in 2022, but as the industry slowly recovers in the coming year, we will offer opportunities to regularly meet, network and conduct business in a safe online format in the meantime. It was very apparent at EuroBLECH DIGITAL, that there currently is a need for the industry to get together and also discover latest innovations to kick-start their business efforts”, continued Nicola Hamann. Further information on the schedule of the digital event series will be announced in due course.
The EuroBLECH Team will communicate closely with customers and partners over the coming weeks and months and thank their exhibitors, partners, suppliers and visitors for their support during this challenging time.
Every two years, the world’s largest sheet metal working technology exhibition attracts top industry professionals from all over the world. The show targets specialists at all management levels in small and medium-sized companies as well as large enterprises from all key industry sectors. Featuring an enormous amount of live machine demonstrations, EuroBLECH is renowned with international sheet metal working professionals as the most important event to find smart solutions and the right machines, equipment and materials for their companies.
The recent launch of the first EuroBLECH Digital Innovation Summit attracted 5,500 international participants from 91 countries and featured meeting options, webinars on recent industry trends and exhibitor presentations as well as hundreds of exhibitor product showcases.
For updates and further information, please visit the event website:
Vintage aeroplane restorer soars with Mazak machine investment
Kennet Aviation, a leading restorer of vintage aeroplanes, has increased its capacity and ability to produce challenging bespoke parts by investing in a new turning centre from Yamazaki Mazak
A leading restorer of vintage aeroplanes has increased its capacity and ability to produce challenging bespoke parts by investing in a new turning centre from Yamazaki Mazak.
Kennet Aviation specialises in the renovation and servicing of historic aeroplanes, including Supermarine Seafires used in World War II, to the stringent standards required by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s specialist aviation regulator.
With the aim of enhancing in-house manufacturing capacity and growing its existing business, the company has invested in a state-of-the-art Mazak QUICK TURN 250MSY CNC turning centre. The new machine, which was built in the UK at the company’s Worcester-based European Manufacturing Plant, has enabled Kennet Aviation to quickly produce high-accuracy, bespoke aircraft components, and significantly reduced the time taken to restore the aircraft.
The investment has also opened up new business opportunities for Kennet Aviation by enabling the company to subcontract its capability to manufacture rare parts for vintage aircraft restorers and collectors worldwide.
Tim Manna, director at Kennet Aviation, comments: “Existing components for these older aeroplanes can be very rare, hard to find, and often not available anywhere. As we may only require very small batches, requesting parts from general subcontractors can be expensive and result in long lead times. We therefore decided to invest in a high-quality CNC machine tools to manufacture parts at Kennet, so we could bring selection, quality control, and timing in-house.
“Mazak provided a brilliant service, and we have been very impressed with how quickly and accurately the QUICK TURN has been able to produce parts. In fact, it has been so successful that we have since invested in a second machine, a VCN530C vertical milling machine with an additional rotary axis, which arrived in December. Now it is up and running, we have 100 percent capability to produce any parts we need for aeroplanes and even classic cars, which is a market we’re now making great strides in.”
Alan Mucklow, managing director UK & Ireland Sales & Service Division at Yamazaki Mazak, adds: “A nation’s history can be found in its vehicles, so it is fantastic
organisations such as Kennet Aviation exist to preserve and protect our aviation heritage. “We are thrilled to have played our part in helping the company expand its machining capacity and generate new business in its highly specialist field. We are also excited to see how they have used Mazak machinery to expand into general subcontracting and renovating vintage cars.”
ESAB and YASKAWA sign collaborative agreement for pre-engineered robotic welding cells
ESAB and YASKAWA have signed a global cooperation agreement to jointly develop and market a line of pre-engineered robotic welding systems called XCellerator
The ESAB Group Inc. and leading robot and robot system company YASKAWA have announced the signing of a global cooperation agreement to jointly develop and market a line of pre-engineered robotic welding systems called XCellerator. The XCellerator systems will be engineered and built by Yaskawa and marketed by ESAB through its global sales channels.
Each company will contribute their special expertise to create a product which is greater than the sum of their individual contributions. In creating the XCellerator line of pre-engineered robotic welding cells, YASKAWA brings more than 30 years of experience producing leading-edge robots, robotic controllers and robot cells to this effort. For its part, ESAB brings its deep expertise in welding processes, filler metals, equipment and automation together with their proprietary WeldCloud weld operations management infrastructure. Together they have produced an integrated robotic welding solution that truly exemplifies these two great companies.
Pre-engineered cells like XCellerator are the fastest, simplest path toward automation. They improve productivity per worker by three to five times and offer a compelling return on investment. Factory-built and tested, they take the risk out of robotic system investments. The cells especially appeal to small and medium-sized manufacturers and fabricators that value easy installation, setup and operation, enabling them to take a confident step toward automating their welding operations.
YASKAWA is a world-leading manufacturer of inverter drives, servo drives, machine controllers, and industrial robots. For more than 100 years, the company philosophy has been based on the principle of highest quality. This philosophy has helped YASKAWA to become one of the top global companies in the field of electrical drive technology. Inventor of the word Mechatronics and its strong focus on research and development has yielded innovations that have contributed significantly to the success of many industries, among them machine construction, mining, machine tooling, automotive construction, packaging and semiconductors. As supplier of MOTOMAN industrial robots, YASKAWA is also one of the world’s biggest robot manufacturer.
YASKAWA operates manufacturing and development facilities in Asia, Europe and North America. For further information visit www.yaskawa.eu.com
ESAB exists to shape the future of welding and cutting. It connect fabricators with the widest range of products under its industry-leading brand portfolio with the latest technologies to solve virtually any industry challenge and then backs it up with unrivalled knowledge, experience and passion to help them be more productive than ever before. To learn more, contact:
Quickgrind now offers ordering on Amazon
Purchasing cutting tools from Tewkesbury cutting tool manufacturer Quickgrind has now been simplified with the company’s product lines available to purchase on Amazon. Recognised for its ‘Infinite Possibilities’ approach to customer requirements in the arena of cutting tools, Quickgrind is now making ‘next day’ delivery of standard product lines a certainty.
Quickgrind has built an established position in the industry for its level of innovation and technology that has rightly earned the company the reputation for delivering on its ‘Infinite Possibilities’ slogan. By making a range of standard products available on the Amazon platform, customers can now order cutting tools as late as 10pm in most areas with guaranteed next day UK delivery. Furthermore, customers can get free One-Day Delivery on eligible items, consolidated shipping and Amazon Day with predictable and convenient weekly deliveries.
While the ‘Infinite Possibilities’ service of technologically advanced bespoke engineered solutions will continue to be provided through the Quickgrind engineering team, the company will introduce a standard series of high-quality innovative products through the Amazon logistics platform. When Quickgrind’s commercial manager Tim Darch was asked what the benefits of using the Amazon platform are, he replied: “Amazon is the world’s most successful online consumer retailer and something that every household is familiar with. Amazon Business is now growing faster than Amazon itself.
“Logistically, using the proven Amazon platform for selling cutting tools will open new doors for Quickgrind while guaranteeing customers that they can order next day delivery as late as 10 pm. No cutting tool manufacturer with established logistical platforms can provide a service that offers such a responsive service. Additionally, this move not only opens Quickgrind up to the whole UK market but also further afield as well, such as the US, Europe and Australia in the future.
“From a business perspective, it will give Quickgrind exposure to enthusiasts, job shops and small manufacturers while simultaneously providing new and existing customers with the facility for ordering standard tools for next day delivery, even during the afternoon or night shift. Add the fact that 50 percent of the FTSE 100 companies use Amazon business, the service is equally applicable to larger manufacturers as well. This opens up access to our tooling for a wide variety of companies. At Quickgrind, we don’t see why people should have to compromise on their tooling quality or prices paid just because they are ordering small volumes.”
The Amazon online store is familiar to most households and businesses alike. This familiarity reduces the complexity of purchasing for work purposes and can also reduce the time spent on administration of orders. The ability to automate approval processes (all part of Amazon Business) can help dramatically reduce this administrative burden.
Additionally, customers control and consolidation of spend can be achieved through a single ‘multi-user’ account with built-in features to control how and what users buy. This eradicates what procurement staff call “long-tail spending” and rogue spending.
Customers can track all their orders with ease and transparency, utilising the expansive Amazon Business store produces lower costs with quantity pricing available and reduced shipping costs. For example, customers can spend just £80 for unlimited deliveries per year. This provides manufacturers with the traceability and confidence that staff can order cutting tools for the urgent jobs that may come in at short notice. Following this, reconciliation against company accounts and tracking is simplified with PO numbers matching the receipt or the commercial credit card statement on your organisation’s accounts.
As a global logistics leader, Amazon provides enhanced visibility and control for business with line-item detail for simple reconciliation through detailed invoices or enhanced transaction data on eligible commercial credit cards. Reconciliation reports can be downloaded through Amazon Business Analytics with customisable reconciliation reports seamlessly integrated through users existing procurement systems such as Coupa, JAGGAER and SAP Ariba.
Tim Darch concludes: “This really is an exciting opportunity for Quickgrind and we can see huge opportunities for both our business and our customers. Amazon will stock a complete line of standardised Quickgrind tools in bonded warehousing held at Amazon fulfilment centres and this will be available for enthusiasts and manufacturers to order in any quantity size that is required. Amazon will automatically update Quickgrind on purchase orders and stock levels and we will replenish and even adjust the Amazon stock levels to meet the requirements of the industry.”
RK International celebrates 70 years in 2021
Managing director John Schwarz looks back with pride
I am sure I can speak for many with us at these difficult times, when I say that we can all do with some positivity in our working lives and it is with great pleasure and pride that I look forward to sharing a few memories with you over the course of 2021, as RK celebrates its 70th year.
Back in 1951, my grandfather and former World War 2 Spitfire pilot Ray Schwarz, identified a void in the manufacturing sector for supplying tools and equipment. Based in South London, he approached his mother and my great grandmother, Kath, with a business proposal to start a company supplying this type of equipment, and with that RK began its business.
In the coming weeks and months, via the News section on our website and our social media channels, I hope you join me as we reminisce on earlier machine tool developments and changes in technology, along with stories from our industry and including a visit to RK’s facility by the Prime Minister.
If you or any of your colleagues have any memories or stories that you would like to share, of your dealings with RK, Ray Schwarz or my father, Mike Schwarz, please feel free to get in contact with me.
ES JANUARY 2021
KUKA posts record robot sales despite challenging year
KUKA Robotics in the UK and Ireland has posted the strongest annual sales figures in the company’s history, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis and the consequential recession. The group attributes the success to its proven sales strategies and to four main strategic factors that combined to make 2020 a record year.
With the rise of e-mobility, driven by customer demand for green modes of transportation, the automotive sector has undergone big changes in vehicle design and propulsion. KUKA has been at the forefront of automation for e-mobility production and a big cause for celebration was a large order from commercial electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival, a new company with a unique production model.
Every Arrival vehicle is produced in a relatively small and low cost “microfactory”, each of which can produce 10,000 vans or 1,000 buses per year. The company has already announced an order of 10,000 electric vans from logistics company UPS, with the option for a further 10,000; production in the UK is now supported by Arrival’s first US microfactory, in York County, South Carolina.
KUKA UK is supplying the robots for Arrival’s rising demand, across the world. CNBC reported in November 2020 that Arrival was aiming to build three to four of these factories a year, each serving a city and its community, linked in a global framework. The potential for future use of robotics and automation from KUKA is very promising.
“The UK automotive sector faces big challenges, but electrification is coming fast and, with winning the Arrival contract, I am confident that KUKA is very well placed to capitalise on this growth market,” says Paul Williams.
KUKA UK appointed a specialist automotive account manager, Paul Williams, in late 2019. With a strong track record in automotive robot applications, he has already made big in-roads into the sector. “KUKA is embedded in the big car plants in Germany but we are not as well established in automotive in the UK, for legacy reasons,” says Bernard Bagley, head of robot sales, KUKA UK. “Paul and the Arrival contract are helping to change that.”
KUKA has restructured its sales teams under general industry, in order to cover sectors and regions simultaneously and efficiently. Now, every sales manager targets an industry sector as well as a geographic footprint. Along with KUKA’s System Partner model of partnering with specialist integrators, the approach is much more customer-facing. KUKA brings projects to its System Partners and vice-versa; KUKA sales engineers and System Partners always “walk the floor” to help advise on optimum automation strategies and act as a trusted advisor.
“This change has generated a lot more interaction with end-customers, which has always been our goal,” says Bernard Bagley. “Our System Partners provide this customer focus and our restructured sales team is now doing the same.”
Thirdly, KUKA has crystallised its strategy for education and research and development. The company has always believed in the fundamental need for appropriately skilled operators, technicians and engineers, in order to extract the best out of automated machines, assembly lines and research projects. KUKA UK and Ireland have invested heavily in supporting the education and research sectors and have developed dedicated educational robot cells and training material, alongside bespoke research cells focused on emerging technologies.
KUKA Ireland recently won a significant tender to supply the Louth & Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) with a range of educational and collaborative robots for its new state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Training Centre of Excellence (AMTCE) in Dundalk, Co. Louth. The training facility at the centre, which is set to be the largest vocational training facility of its kind in Europe, includes tailored educational industrial 6-axis robots with vision systems, robotic welding cells, robotic milling/machining cells and collaborative robot, cobot, cells.
Brian Cooney, managing director of KUKA Ireland, says “Manufacturing is experiencing a serious skills gap and shortage of resources in advanced manufacturing technologies at vocational level, which is not being addressed by the third level colleges and universities. The investment by the LMETB in this visionary AMTCE training centre is not only addressing this skills gap in Ireland but is also setting the standard by which other European centres may be measured.”
The AMTCE provides tailored training courses to upskill and reskill operators and technicians and forms a critical component of the Irish Government’s Industry 4.0 Strategy 2020-2025 program and Covid-19 recovery plan.
KUKA Robotics is the only robot manufacturer with a dedicated presence in Ireland with local sales, customer service, application engineering and training. “This recent success is testament to our focus on providing the best possible products and service to our customers. This is never more important than starting with the operators and technicians who will be responsible for the continued success of our manufacturing sectors,” says Brian Cooney.
KUKA UK and Ireland enters 2021 with a very strong team, with experts in sectors, applications, and regions across the board, together with a network of independent Platinum, Gold and Silver level System Partners, who deliver first class solutions and consultancy centred on their core competencies.
Looking to 2021, KUKA believes the robotics and automation sectors are set for significant growth in response to increased demand to offset the heavy reliance on ever scarcer resources, to reshoring, and to escalate efficiencies and competitiveness in manufacturing. New social distancing requirements in factories and workplaces increase the need for automation to create safe working environments within a limited floorspace.
The life-science sector, including medical device, pharmaceutical and biotech, is a notable growth market. Laboratories are presenting new applications for robots and cobots, especially in labs and clean rooms, that require precise, repetitive processes where a robot can provide the consistency, reliability and traceability that such a highly validated process demands.
Brian Cooney says that, while 2020 has been a difficult year for many manufacturing sectors suffering under the double impact of Covid-19 and the uncertainty around Brexit, it is widely expected that there will be a strong bounce back in the UK and Irish economies in 2021 and beyond. With the benefits of Industry 4.0 and digitisation, together with incredible advances in manufacturing technologies, KUKA expects to take its record 2020 success into 2021 and deliver continued growth, despite the economic challenges.
Battery Ventures acquires Cimatron and GibbsCAM from 3D Systems
Businesses to join Battery-owned SigmaTEK under new corporate umbrella: combination to spur growth and continue product investment
Battery Ventures, a global, technology-focused investment firm, has agreed to acquire the combined Cimatron and GibbsCAM software businesses from global additive manufacturing solutions company 3D Systems Corporation. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions.
As part of the acquisition, Cimatron and GibbsCAM will join Battery-backed SigmaTEK Systems*, a CAD/CAM software provider serving professional fabricators, in a new holding company called CAMBRIO. Headed by Robbie Payne, current SigmaTEK Systems CEO and a veteran tech executive, CAMBRIO will leverage Cimatron and GibbsCAM to offer a diverse set of design and machining software solutions, and firmly position itself as a CAD/CAM innovator in the fabrication, toolmaking, and production machining industries.
Current SigmaTEK Chairman Richard Smith, previously CEO of Vero Software, a UK-based CAD/CAM software maker acquired by Hexagon AB in 2014, will join CAMBRIO’s board, along with Steve Sivitter, another former Vero executive who is currently the CEO of 1WorldSync, a product-content solutions company whose software helps large brands share product data with retailers, operators and distributors.
“We are extremely pleased for the companies to be combining forces. It is a great strategic match,” says Richard Smith. “The teams have proven track records and we can leverage our extensive domain expertise in manufacturing software to drive product development and benefit our customers like never before.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Robbie Payne says: “We are often serving the same customer profile and trying to solve similar industry issues with innovative software technology. As a combined entity, we will continue to invest in each of the individual products, make our customers more productive, and enlarge our distribution capability. Finally, we are excited about working with the existing Cimatron and GibbsCAM employees and partners and look forward to further expanding our presence in the global market.”
Battery partners with exceptional founders and management teams developing category-defining businesses in markets including software and services, enterprise infrastructure, online marketplaces, healthcare IT and industrial technology. Founded in 1983, the firm backs companies at all stages, ranging from seed and early to growth and buyout, and invests globally from offices in Boston, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Israel, London and New York.
More than 30 years ago, 3D Systems brought the innovation of 3D printing to the manufacturing industry. Today, as the leading additive manufacturing solutions partner, it brings innovation, performance, and reliability to every interaction, empowering our customers to create products and business models never before possible. 3D Systems’ solutions address a variety of advanced applications in healthcare and Industrial markets such as medical and dental, aerospace & defence, automotive and durable goods. More information on the company is available at www.3dsystems.com
Hexagon enhances its Smart Manufacturing solutions portfolio with the acquisition of D.P.Technology Corp
Hexagon AB, a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, has announced the signing of an agreement to acquire D.P.Technology Corp., a leading developer and supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology.
The ESPRIT CAM System, its flagship solution, is the smart manufacturing solution for any machining application. Supporting any class of CNC machine via a common interface and workflow, it provides high-performance CNC machine programming, optimisation, and simulation for a broad range of precision manufacturing applications.
Well known for its machine-optimised, edit-free G-code (toolpath), ESPRIT leverages a digital twin simulation platform to model the finished part, tools, and CNC machine. AI-based algorithms eliminate manual data input and provide machine operators with greater assurance of what will happen on the shop floor. The result – simplified programming, increased tool life and utilisation, reduced cycle times and improved productivity.
“D.P.Technology is an innovator with a strong focus on building smarter, data-driven manufacturing solutions. When combined with our production software portfolio, it cements our market-leading position in CAM, particularly around CNC manufacturing processes, and accelerates the development of our Smart Manufacturing portfolio,” says Hexagon president and CEO Ola Rollén. “Additionally, the D.P.Technology team has built excellent working relationships with leading machine tool providers and other manufacturing technology experts, which will prove invaluable in our open and interoperable manufacturing ecosystem approach.”
Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Camarillo, California, D.P.Technology employs around 260 people in 27 locations worldwide. The company is also represented by a network of 130 resellers across 44 countries, giving ESPRIT a global footprint and install base. D.P.Technology will operate as part of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. Completion of the transaction (closing) is subject to regulatory approvals. 2019 sales amounted to 35M EUR.
Hexagon is a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions. It puts data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, and quality across industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, safety, and mobility applications. Hexagon technologies are shaping urban and production ecosystems to become increasingly connected and autonomous, ensuring a scalable, sustainable future. The group has approximately 20,000 employees in 50 countries and net sales of approximately 3.9bn EUR.
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Fronius opens a new prototyping centre
From the beginning of December, Fronius will be offering car manufacturers, their suppliers and integrators the option to outsource prototype construction. In the new prototyping centre in Wels, Upper Austria, Fronius welding technology specialists will work with customers to develop the ideal solution for joining their components, starting with the design phase, feasibility studies using simulations, welding process evaluation and welding trials, through to various quality checks and project support. In addition to prototype production with all its various phases, Fronius also manufactures smaller quantities of customer components for pre-series production if required. Fronius therefore offers a complete solution for prototype construction.
As a result, car manufacturers can benefit from considerable savings potential, increased efficiency, and minimisation of risks. By outsourcing the production of prototypes, development costs, time-intensive labour and investments in dedicated prototyping centres are eliminated. What’s more, customers benefit from Fronius’ extensive welding expertise and the associated state-of-the-art technologies.
Premium welding technology for prototype construction
Covering more than 900 sq metres, the prototyping centre provides sophisticated simulation, welding, and measuring technology. This makes it possible to manufacture components measuring up to 3×2 meters and weighing up to 1,500 kgs. The facilities are sealed off from other areas and guarantee absolute discretion.
One of the two robot welding cells used is equipped with Fronius CMT technology. The heat-reduced welding process is suitable for almost any parent material, especially light-gage sheet metal and reduces spattering and distortion. The flexible TPS/i welding system platform used for this purpose also allows other welding processes to be employed if required. In addition, the robot cell uses an Acerios surface cleaning system that pre-treats the edges of the components using hot plasma technology. This creates the perfect conditions for high-quality welding seams.
The second robot welding cell features both a laser and a powerful GMAW welding system. In conjunction, the LaserHybrid process combines the advantages of both worlds and thus offers excellent gap-bridging ability and high welding speeds. Deep penetration, low heat input and thus minimal component distortion also go hand in hand here.
Both welding cells are equipped with sophisticated robot assistance and control systems
A laser monitoring system mounted on the welding torch ensures that the robot welds in exactly the right location. In case of misalignment, distortion, or tolerances that are common in production, the robot can automatically correct the pre-programmed weld seam path and welding is performed reliably at the correct position.
Fronius SeamTracking provides another option. This function reliably detects the component edge through welding torch pendulum movements for fillet and prepared butt welds. In addition, the ArcView camera system provides a direct view of the arc, enabling the welding process to be monitored precisely. If necessary, the welder can immediately take corrective action.
What’s more, an automated weld seam inspection system scans the seam after the welding process and immediately performs a visual quality inspection. At the same time, the WeldCube data documentation software monitors and stores all relevant data from the welding process and enables clear traceability of each seam.
In addition to highly developed welding processes and the monitoring of these processes, the component is measured three-dimensionally in a dedicated robot cell after welding, which allows any deviations such as tolerances or distortion to be accurately detected. This precise monitoring of the exact dimensions thus takes place from an early stage in the prototype construction, enabling a quick response and adjustment of various parameters, e.g., welding sequence, welding parameters, and clamping technology, saving time and costs both during development and in the subsequent production ramp-up. Fronius also offers its customers the option of subjecting the prototypes to metallurgical testing in the laboratory.