Winds of change at Ate Aerotech

The latest metrology innovations are proving popular at Sussex-based Ate Aerotech, which specialises in aerodynamic test equipment, typically for wind tunnels used in the motorsport and aviation industries.

Before a wind tunnel test is undertaken, it is vital to calibrate the positional accuracy of the system’s various movable elements, which enables the company’s control algorithms to achieve the required intricate and precise profiles. Faced with the need to perform 3D metrology procedures in such a large-scale environment, Ate Aerotech recently searched for a precise, non-contact co-ordinate measuring system that could provide high levels of calibration accuracy, along with ease and speed of use. Having considered several options, Ate purchased a VantageS laser tracker from Faro, which was to be incorporated into one of its systems for a Chinese client.

The laser tracker soon proved its ability to provide the required challenging levels of accuracy over long distances. Ate Aerotech staff perform wind tunnel calibration tasks by plotting the position of each of the system’s moving parts at their start positions. Then, when each element is traversed throughout a predetermined grid pattern, a series of further readings is taken. The precision of the captured data allows micro adjustments to be made so that the maximum accuracy potential of each Ate Aerotech system can be realised.

Many other uses have been found for the laser tracker, so much so that the company has since invested in a further unit for its own use.
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Walter reports strong UK Helicheck sales

Walter Ewag UK reports another successful year of order intake during 2018, with particular mention for sales of the company’sHelicheck tool measuring machines.According to sales director Neil Whittingham, “while last year’s order book was especially focused on tool grinding and erosion, this year we’ve also seen a shift towards investment in tool measurement from across the Helicheck range, including the top-of-the-range Helicheck 3D”.

With X-, Y- and Z-axis capacities of 270 x 455 x 325 mm, plus an A axis of 360°, the Helicheck 3D utilises a novel method of laser digitising so that items canbe scanned quickly and easily. This capability creates3D model data that can be saved, processed, analysed and measured.

The machine’s 3D Tool Analyser software – specifically developed for the application – can lay horizontal, vertical and freely selectable cutting planes at any position on the 3D model. These planes are automatically analysed and the resulting parameters made available for use.The capability to measure all important tool features is said to be quick and simple with Helicheck 3D, and since measurements are carried out on virtual models, the process can be performed offline.

A software 3D ‘matcher’ enables users to create a colour-coded comparison of two 3D models within the machine’s graphical user interface. After the ‘match’ of both models, the operator instantly receives an evaluation of product quality and any deviations from desired values.

Whittingham adds: “Of course, not all machines ordered in a certain year are delivered during that year, which means we have a healthy outlook as we enter 2019.”
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Ford develops automated hot forming

Once it was a technique that helped protect knights in armour from the crashing blows of their rivals. Now, Ford is applying a cutting-edge version of the same technology to help make its cars safer than ever. The first fully automated hot-forming process shapes and cuts parts of the all-new Ford Focus – which are integral to protecting drivers and passengers – using large furnaces, robots and 3000°C lasers.

The hot-forming line – fully integrated within the company’s Saarlouis vehicle assembly plant in Germany – was built as part of a recent €600m investment in the facility. Hot-formed steel pieces are subjected to temperatures of up to 930°C, unloaded by robots into a hydraulic press that has a closing force up to 1150 tonnes, and then shaped and cooled in just three seconds. The boron steel is so strong by this point that a laser beam hotter than lava is used to precision-cut each piece into its final shape.
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Gewefa at Hurco open house

Gewefa UK will be exhibiting at the forthcoming Hurco open house and this year will be highlighting – among other products – its expertise as a supplier of face and taper tool-holding products. The Hurco open house takes place on 4-5 December at the company’s UK headquarters in High Wycombe. With its long-standing relationship with Hurco in the UK, Gewefa is the primary supplier of tooling packages supplied on new Hurco machines. Gewefa supports users of these machines with a range of tool holders, covering BT and DIN formats in SK30, 40 and 50 tapers, to offer capability for heavy-duty and very high-speed machining applications.
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Live Machining demonstrations

On 20 November the University of Wolverhampton will be hosting a live machining demonstration at its Telford Innovation Campus. The primary aim of the event will be to bring students, academics and industry experts together to demonstrate the relationships that the university has with industry. Cutting tool specialist Tungaloy will be supporting the event, along with technical partners Hurco and Autodesk. Among the live machining demonstrations will be an EN24 aerospace bracket. This part will involve the use of the latest DoFeed, DoTwistBall, TungRec and TungMeister cutters from the Tungaloy portfolio.
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