Latest apprentices

Sheffield Forgemasters has welcomed its latest intake of 15 apprentices, who are training for important positions across the business.

The latest recruitment of apprentices provides jobs across the company in roles ranging from machinists to associate project managers, as the company futureproofs the business with a younger workforce and new skills sets. This years’ intake will provide fully paid, four-year apprenticeships to the applicants, who were recruited from across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.
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Cutting through contaminated metal debris

HE&M Saw has created a number of custom saws over the years, but none more unique than the bespoke saw it designed for a decommissioned plutonium manufacturing facility located in Colorado. With the capability to cut through large blocks of compressed scrap, the custom saw can also be dissembled and reassembled to allow for transportation into the required facility.

In the early 1990s, a plutonium manufacturing facility in Colorado was decommissioned. The facility had produced plutonium for nuclear ordinance since the 1950s. As part of the deconstruction efforts, over 800 structures were demolished, and 21 tons of weapons-grade materials were removed. The demolition resulted in 1.3 million cubic metres of waste that was compressed into 0.9 m cubes and buried underground. Today, the plant is completely gone. However, it was recently discovered that some of the buried material was contaminated and leaking into the environment, so it had to be dug up and disposed of properly.
For correct disposal, a saw would need to cut the 0.9 m metal cubes into pieces small enough to fit inside 208-litre drums. The cubes were deemed hazardous and radioactive, and could only be processed in a radiation containment facility. The facility was isolated within 0.9 m thick walls and only accessible through a service door. Unfortunately, a saw with this capability usually stands at 3.6 m high, far larger than the human-sized service door. As a solution, HE&M’s engineering team designed a saw that could be dissembled by the customer, carried through the service door, and then reassembled to cut the compressed cubes.
This project provided the HE&M team with the opportunity to think outside the box and design a saw that could cut the product, while also fitting within specific facility constraints.
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Composites firm doubles capacity

Composites and advanced materials company Bindatex has doubled its capacity by investing in a new slitting line.

The latest line will increase the company’s capacity to 30 tonnes per year, and create five new jobs in the process. Bindatex’s new line can cut UD, prepreg and composite materials to widths of just 3.175 mm. The Manchester-based business says it is the only firm of its type in the UK that can undertake slitting to widths as narrow as 1 mm. Narrow widths are said to pose a challenge for many composite cutting companies. Bindatex customers include thermoplastic and thermoset manufacturers
around the globe.
Managing director Chris Lever says: “We can meet orders of all sizes as our nimble operations can quickly change to address the varying needs of customers. Our close working relationship with clients builds trust and understanding of their business requirements, which we constantly strive to support.”
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Considerations when buying a circular saw

Selmach has set about identifying the most important points to consider when purchasing a circular saw for metalworking applications. Firstly, what metal is being cut? A high-speed saw (usually 3000 rpm) will be required for cutting aluminium. Slower speed saws (90 rpm) are generally used for cutting mild steel, and slower again (45 rpm) for stainless. Nowadays, most circular saws will have two or three speed settings on the control panel, which make them suitable for multiple cutting applications, i.e. both stainless and mild steel.

Notably, the wrong blade can lead to a bad cut, cause damage to the workpiece and/or saw (due to vibration), and will be noisy. Finding the right tooth pitch is therefore imperative.
The main types of blades commonly available include SHSS (high-speed steel) for cutting mild steel and TiCN (titanium carbo-nitride) for stainless steel. The latter, which will also cut mild steel, are twice the cost of SHSS blades but will last much longer. Cutting aluminium on high-speed saw will require a TCT blade.
With the right blade and everything set correctly, a circular saw should provide a straight cut with minimal requirement for secondary processing and deburring. Circular saws are most often used in the balustrade industry, and in window manufacturing, where perfectly square cuts are required on every piece with minimal secondary operations.
The Sterling saws from Selmach are popular due to their sturdy construction, double clamping self-centring vice, and their slitting ability. If the budget is tight, then the Thomas range is a good low cost, yet still professional option.
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High-efficiency gear hobbing

Rotary actuators from HKS Dreh-Antriebe GmbH are jacks-of-all-trades, and are used whenever an object must be rotated or swivelled. The company uses Emag Richardon’s vertical hobbing machines to create special external gearings on the central piston of the rotary actuator: two of these are installed at the HKS location in Hesse, Germany, with a new R300 unit at the Neukirch plant in Saxony.

These machines have a very demanding list of requirements that must be met. For instance, due to the variety of products manufactured, the machine must be re-tooled frequently and yet still deliver flawless gearing quality.
Being able to accelerate, brake, precisely position and then hold an object in place, is not an uncommon request. For instance, when a refuse truck from the local disposal service lifts the container and empties it with a swivelling motion, more often than not an HKS actuator is providing the lifting power. The same applies for the fire department’s rescue platforms, or particularly large excavator shovels. At the other end of the spectrum, rotary actuators from HKS are used in industrial production, to ensure the precise tipping of collection bins, the quick movement of mixing devices or easy completion of tool changes on a machine, for example.
Rotary actuators are based on various actuator principles and feature different performance characteristics and sizes. Given all this diversity, is there such a thing as a broad basis for success at HKS?

“At the end of the day, it’s always a matter of developing very precise actuators; being able to durably withstand the highest loads and work efficiently,” explains Mario Vogt, head of operations at the HKS plant in Neukirch. “We therefore develop highly bespoke solutions for many customers and operate our three production sites in Germany with high vertical integration. Our experience flows into each and every development. This is the basis on which we have become one of the leading manufacturers in this field.”
Another reason why this is such a particularly challenging type of gear manufacturing becomes obvious when looking at the various operating principles of rotary actuators. Take helical rotary actuators, for instance; this type of actuator converts the linear movement of an actuated piston into the required rotary motion. The piston’s high-helix thread is then combined with the internal gearing of the cylinder that surrounds it – the longer the linear movement of piston, the greater the rotational movement.
This principle is as simple as it is effective. However, depending on the area of application, a tremendous amount of force may also be placed on these gearings. The typical areas of application for HKS torque motors in industry and engineering demand reliability. For this reason, only extremely stable and precise gearings are produced – the reject tolerance is zero.

The fact that HKS executives approached Emag with this challenge is no coincidence, since two Richardon hobbing machines are used at the production site in Wächtersbach, Hesse. Their reliability and efficiency should now make an impact at the Neukirch site, considering that the existing gear-cutting machines installed there were already ageing.
“One of our goals was to handle increasing production volumes for gears at a higher machining pace, since our technology is being implemented in a growing number of application areas,” explains Vogt. “At the same time, re-tooling the hobbing machine must be very fast and easy, since our batch sizes can range from one to 50. Batch size changes occur almost daily. That’s why it’s important for us that the re-tooling process can be completed within a few minutes, depending on the component. Production starts immediately once we’ve run in the machine with a sample.”
The R300 vertical hobbing machine from Emag Richardon has been running at HKS since March 2019. Throughout this time, there has been a tremendous increase in performance when compared with the technology used previously. For example, the operation time has been reduced from up to three hours to about 30 minutes when machining very large gearings. At the same time, the tool life of the hob has increased by approximately 30%.
In summary, the vertical hobbing machine is able to machine module 3 external gearings from 90 to 350 mm in width. The pistons generally range from 200 to 500 mm in length and weigh between 2 to 200 kg.
“This broad range of components is directly linked to a particular strength of Emag Richardon’s technology: generous fundamental design principles,” explains Michael Ossot from Emag’s sales team.

The machine also stands out because of a variety of details in its design: the base of the machine is made of high-quality cast iron, which reduces vibration. Emag’s machine is also very thermostable. The workpiece table with torque motor is another important aspect, since its direct drive is free of wear, backlash and maintenance, and precise in its movements. This factor benefits precision during the machining process. The double V guideways on all axes are another notable mark of quality.
In 2017, the Emag Group acquired Richardon and gained extensive experience in gear cutting for large components. It was important to HKS that this transition did not lead to any technological changes to the design of the machines, as confirmed by Vogt: “We have had a great experience with this technology and obviously wanted to establish the same efficiency and flexibility at our Neukirch site, without any change in mechanical engineering. Emag were able to guarantee this.
“We’re continuing to see the benefits of our investment decision,” he adds. “The machine allows us to produce significantly larger unit volumes in a comparable time period. Considering that rotary actuators are continuing to be implemented in a growing number of application areas and the market for this technology is growing, this is a key enabler of our success.”
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