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Unison tube bender makes light work of SST’s life-saving Halo system and other titanium structures

February 5th, 2021 3:10 pm | by admin

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.”

Unison Ltd
Tel: 01723 582 868

Partner in Precision

August 22nd, 2019 9:11 am | by admin UK has been established to be a frontrunner in supplying the most advanced grinding technology to the UK’s engineering and manufacturing industries. With a range of high precision grinding machines from Japan and Europe’s elite, together with a strong historical partnership with Curtis Machine Tools, UK is able to offer customers engineered solutions along a broad spectrum of high precision grinding applications, from a single machine to the complete production line.

The UK engineering team, with support from its Japanese and European principals, provides the highest possible level of technical support, with an award-winning reputation for its ability to provide the most innovative and cost-effective turn-key production solutions.

From the showroom and application centre based in Colchester, Essex, the UK engineering team can offer the design and development of solutions that are precisely tailored to maximise the production output and satisfy the customers’ ancillary requirements. At the concept stage, everything is considered to provide the most efficient process, from pre-process inspection to the final packaging.

With installations within the aerospace, automotive, bearing, cutting tool, defence, hydraulic, motorsport, tool and die industries, is equipped with the necessary, in-depth knowledge and technical experience across a broad range of high-tech applications to ensure our customers receive the optimum solution.

The focus centres on productivity gains through process and accuracy optimisation. To achieve this UK combines years of grinding and automation experience with its own UK engineers, local partners and a selection of world-leading grinding machine manufacturers.

As the “UK partner for precision”, UK can offer the following product portfolio:-


As the world’s largest manufacturer of profile grinding machines, AMADA impresses with its ultra-precision products. AMADA offers machine construction at its best with unrivalled product quality, complete standard equipment and a unique after-sales service.

With grinding performance that delivers outstanding results in terms of productivity and quality, achievable accuracies down to 1μm and surface finish to Ra 0.02, the evidence is clear: AMADA high-end machines fully demonstrate their superiority and are above all in high-precision tool and mould making, as well as in the production of carbide or steel parts.


ROSA ERMANDO S.p.A. is a worldwide leader in designing and building horizontal-spindle grinding machines for flat surfaces and profiles, universal grinding machines for rails and profiles and creep-feed grinding machines.

The manufacturing range of Rosa Ermando S.p.A. comprises single-column grinding machines for grinding sizes from 800 x 630 x 480 mm up to 7,600 x 1,100 x 800 mm and double-column grinding machines for grinding sizes from 2,100 x 1,400 x 700 mm up to 5,600 x 1,750 x 975 mm. The different versions include tech-In machines, machines equipped with NC control for automatic cycles with linear dressing and machines equipped with CNC control for automatic cycle with wheel profiling.


Founded at the beginning of the 1930’s, Favretto specialises in the design and manufacture of grinding machines for flat surfaces, profiles and rotary tables, along with their related services.

Over the years, more than 20,000 machines have been produced. With these numbers, Favretto has always been considered one of the leading Italian manufacturers of grinding machines with the largest variety of products to meet the specific requirements of the user customer.

In April 2017, a new venture began between Favretto Srl and the Rosa GrindTech Group with the ambition to continue to grow, and with the aim of giving a new boost to the Italian machine tool sector. This prestigious Italian company has now taken over the activities of Favretto SpA, and is proud to represent them in the UK, as well as offering after sales service for both products as well as the new ROSA machines.


 Japan’s No.1 in cylindrical grinding, founded in 1911, this long-established company has an unrivalled history in the world of machine tools. SHIGIYA has made a name for itself as a reliable partner for the Asian and American automotive industry.

Several thousand machines at Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Mazda, Denso, Kia, Hyundai, FANUC and their suppliers prove daily the excellence of SHIGIYA products. Additionally, in Europe customers count on the reliability of Japanese cutting-edge technology, as in mechanical engineering. With over 100 different models in over 300 variants and peak widths from 100 to 6,000 mm, SHIGIYA also offers the perfect product for your grinding task.


As Japan’s largest manufacturer of internal grinding machines and a long-term supplier to the Japanese automotive industry, TOYO knows first-hand the stringent requirements of this industry. With an ever-increasing requirement for quality improvements and shorter production times TOYO are ready to meet the challenge and have a catalogue of machines that match the task.

The honing machines from TOYO, which are used for the machining of cylinder blocks and automotive mass production, are also receiving great praise. Even the complex shape of the trochoid housing, from the only automobile rotary engine at present, is manufacture using TOYO machines. UK
Tel: 01206 230032

EMO Hall 11 Stand D62

Record attendance at Citizen’s first Midlands Open House

June 2nd, 2019 10:02 pm | by admin

Nine orders to the value of £2 million were placed at Citizen Machinery UK’s first Open House at its new Midlands turning centre of excellence in Brierley Hill. The order total is likely to double in the immediate aftermath of the event. Attendance over three days last month exceeded 300, a record number. Visitors looking to upgrade their sliding- and fixed-head CNC turning capacity were welcomed from OEMs and subcontractors throughout the UK and Ireland, as well as from continental Europe.

Four products were launched, all of which benefit from Citizen’s patented LFV chip breaking software. They were the new L32-X, L32-XII and D25-VIII Cincom sliding-head bar autos on which the software is optional, and the Miyano BNA-42GTY, the first Citizen fixed-head lathe to have the addition of LFV in the operating system of the Mitsubishi control.

A further 11 machines were on display cutting metal, one of which, a Cincom L20, was equipped with a low-cost, automatic billet load/unload system instead of a barfeed. Most of the lathes had a sheet attached to illustrate the annual profit achievable if a customer purchases the machine and produces the demonstration part over 10, 15 or 20 hours per day. All examples showed a healthy margin.

In the best case, when machining a £2 brass part in a cycle time of 40 seconds for 20 hours a day on a 42 mm capacity Miyano BNA-42S2 fixed-head turn-mill centre, subtracting the machine cost per year from the income from production of the component resulted in a profit of £881,520 per year, ignoring operating costs.

The Open House featured a Made in the Midlands networking event on the last morning, in which 50 people from local member companies participated. Representatives from each firm introduced their business and learned more about Citizen and its products. Interestingly, it was revealed during the presentation by Citizen Machinery UK’s deputy managing director Darren Wilkins that the revenue generated by the machine tool division of the global business has recently overtaken that of the famous watches. He was also proud to announce that sales in the UK and Ireland in 2018 were at a record high at 164 machines, propelling the company to market leader for the supply of bar turning automatics, while the first quarter of 2019 saw it also become the leading supplier of sliding-head lathes in UK as well as the whole of Europe. Much of this success is down to the introduction of LFV software on the Cincom platforms.

A party was held on the Wednesday evening to celebrate the opening of the new premises, at which Citizen watches were presented to consultants involved in the design and construction of the building extension. Entertainment was provided by a band whose Birmingham-born lead guitarist Ian Parker has established himself as one of the UK’s foremost blues artists.

Supplier company presence at machine tool open houses is not new, but few host as many as this event. Twenty firms were represented and unusually, four of them have permanent display booths adjacent to the new showroom: Citizen Finance, headed by John Lane; workholding specialist Hainbuch; tooling supplier Floyd Automatic Tooling; 1st Machine Tool Accessories, which in addition to selling workholding equipment is the UK agent for Iemca bar magazines, which are fitted to most Citizen lathes.

Other equipment providers were: Arno (parting-off and grooving tools), Bison (chucks, tooling and workholding), Blaser Swisslube (cutting fluids) and its UK supplier Jemtech, Cromar Metal Products (swarf conveyors), Filtermist (oil mist extraction), Firetrace (fire suppression), Guhring (cutting tools), Heimatec (tooling systems), Hydrajet (high-pressure coolant systems), J&S Engineering (swarf processing), LNS (bar feeding and swarf management), Mikron (automation and tooling), NTK Cutting Tools (tooling), Sandvik (tooling), Wieland (conveyors and augers copper and copper alloy materials), and Wogaard (coolants).

Citizen Machinery UK Ltd
Tel: 01923 691500

Sales boost adds to cutting-edge Essex manufacturer’s 55th birthday celebrations

February 13th, 2019 11:51 am | by admin

The UK’s only manufacturer of cutting systems is looking to build on a strong year of sales by starting its
55th year in business in style.

Blackman & White, which employs 28 people at its state-of-the-art factory in Essex, grew 10 percent in 2018 after a surge of orders from UK and overseas customers involved in the aerospace, automotive, graphics, marine and print sectors.

‘Orion’, an entry-level ‘low cost’ CNC flatbed cutting machine with quick and accurate low ply cutting/plotting system, was the star performer, outperforming other ranges in just seven months.

The company is now targeting greater production control, operational efficiencies and the opportunity to scale after it successfully commissioned a new Material Resource Planning system thanks to the support of the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP).

“Our cutting machines are easily identifiable for their robust and reliable build quality, which helps our clients quickly deliver a return on investment,” says Eiko White, finance and operations director at Blackman & White.

“Innovation is another core theme for the company and this has helped us introduce the automated ‘Genesis-V multi-tool Router, Laser and Knife’ range into the marketplace and this has given us a real boost in sales. Interest has come from large throughput signage through to composite manufacturers, who benefit from high percentage material efficiency, as well as high accuracy and speed.

“There are lots of opportunities for us to grow the business, both at home and abroad. However, to do this we needed to better understand our manufacturing operations and how we could put in place improved platforms and systems that would allow us to develop new products and scale-up quickly.

“This is when we turned to the Manufacturing Growth Programme to provide a strategic review of our company and then external assistance to target key areas of improvement that will deliver a host of tangible benefits.”

Sarah Goodwin, MGP Manufacturing Growth Manager, adds her support: “Blackman & White is a market leader in what it does, but every specialist sometimes needs a little help to take a holistic view of processes and material planning.

“This is exactly what we did, providing a clearly defined action plan that will eventually lead to the installation of a new MRP system that will give it real time data and a host of operational efficiency improvements.

“2019 is a massive year for the company and, with these foundations in place, we expect it to build on strong sales growth by securing new business in countries, such as Hungary, Romania, the Philippines and the US.”

The Manufacturing Growth Programme was set up to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers grow and improve.

This is being achieved through a 19-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers (MGM), access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an average improvement grant starting from £1000.

Support can be used for leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.

For more information on MGP, visit or follow @mfggrowthp on twitter.

Blackman & White
Tel: 01621 843 404


CGTech celebrates 30-year milestone

February 13th, 2018 2:23 pm | by Rob

CGTech, the developer of VERICUT® software, is proud to celebrate three decades of innovation and consistent growth. Headquartered in Irvine, California, with 10 wholly-owned subsidiaries and an extensive network of resellers to support customers worldwide, the company is releasing new CNC simulation and optimisation technologies faster than ever before.

“CGTech may have started 30 years ago, but we continue coming out with new products while enhancing our core capabilities,” says CGTech Ltd. managing director Tony Shrewsbury. “VERICUT development is driven by our customers’ needs, and we always encourage input from users and partners. We host nearly 50 free VERICUT user group meetings worldwide each year to gather valuable customer feedback.”

CGTech began when president Jon Prun recognised a need to verify NC tool path programs without wasting valuable CNC machining time on a prove-out part. VERICUT software was the world’s first widely available, productive method to test NC machine tool paths in an offline virtual reality environment. VERICUT revolutionised NC program verification by simulating material removal using a three-dimensional solid model.

VERICUT products are developed in-house by a large team of CGTech software engineers who have many years of experience in the mechanical CAD/CAM industry. Over time, enhancements have been added to support complex multi-axis kinematics, reduce machine tool cycle times, increase tool life, and simulate the additive capabilities of hybrid CNC machines. CGTech also develops several software products for companies utilising automated composite machinery, along with drilling and fastening machines used for airframe assembly.

The company has been on a hiring spree in recent years to keep up with the demands of its customers, which consists of thousands of companies in virtually every manufacturing industry and every major aerospace and automotive company. Direct offices are located in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Brazil, and Korea.

CGTech’s VERICUT software is the standard for CNC simulation, verification, optimisation, analysis, and additive manufacturing. CGTech also offers programming and simulation software for composites automated fibre-placement, tape-laying, and drilling/fastening CNC machines. VERICUT software is used by companies of different sizes in all industries. Established in 1988, and headquartered in Irvine, California; CGTech has an extensive network of offices and resellers throughout the world.

CGTech Ltd
Tel: 01273 773538