Machining components for CPAP units

Having received an order for 30,000 components from the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium that was tasked with manufacturing 10,000 CPAP flow generator units, Prescot-based Bryken Precision Engineering had just 10 days in which to deliver.

As such, Bryken was happy to accept the support offered by long-term cutting-tool partner Ceratizit UK & Ireland, to provide tooling for projects such as this at advantageous discounts. An initial order was placed for over 325 items from the Ceratizit catalogue, including solid-carbide drills, turning inserts, and internal grooving and boring bars, with delivery the following morning.
For further information

Coil line upgrade project completed

A specialist in hot and cold-forming equipment, Rhodes Interform and its sister company Atkin Automation, recently won a contract to supply and install a new coil-processing line for a major northeast heat-shield manufacturer. The machine is used to produce blanked parts from single-pitch tools, or formed parts from progressive tooling in the automotive industry.

Following technical meetings between the client and Rhodes Interform engineers, a solution was proposed and accepted which involved the supply of a unit from sister company Atkin Automation’s Taiwanese partner Shung-Dar. The unit selected was a space-saving three-in-one NC servo-feeder, straightener, decoiler and coil cart with a capacity of 3000 kg by 800 mm. The unit is rated at 1.5 mm at full width, and comes with a Siemens PLC. Notably, a novel pilot release feature ensures optimum press performance by relieving built-up stress and binding of the strip through the feed caused by misalignment or camber, as well as alleviating ‘walking’ problems.
“This project was a great example of two business divisions working to generate an effective solution for the customer,” says Geoff Barker, sales manager for Atkin Automation. “We have extensive experience in providing products and services to heat-shield manufacturers and the coil-processing industry in general, and the success of the project is testament to the skills of our technical team.”
Features of the unit include: hydraulic coil cart, hydraulic mandrel expansion, threading supports, motorised feed height adjustment, programmable feed lengths with memory storage, and pilot release. To ensure operator safety and conformity to CE standards, Rhodes Interform installed the unit with fully interlocked perimeter fencing.
For further information

Answering the COVID-19 call to action

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary suppliers and, luckily for Birmingham-based CNC Routing, the company has a long-standing relationship with Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC). With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a firm grip on the nation, UK manufacturers like CNC Routing are stepping up to support the NHS and critical infrastructure projects.

Founded in 2005, the company has an established position serving the automotive, retail, healthcare and industrial sectors with its design, routing, finishing, fabrication, installation and building services. The company has three AXYZ routing machines, each having a twin-head facility. So, when a customer became overrun with the production of critical ‘sneeze screens’ for supermarkets, the 26-employee business immediately stepped-up to help the cause.
Discussing the sneeze screen project, head of design and technical at CNC Routing, Chris Noble, says: “Just a week ago we were commissioned to manufacture 8000 acrylic, PETG and polycarbonate sneeze screens for supermarket checkouts. Machined from 3050 x 2050 mm sheets, the screens are manufactured in two sizes of 600 mm wide by 750 mm high, and 750 mm wide by 1000 mm high, with panel thicknesses ranging from 3 to 6 mm. With the screens being supplied to more than a dozen supermarket chains, each with various till and checkout dimensions, the different sized screens require both hole position and dimensional variations. This has resulted in our company producing more than 12 different screen variants.”
As soon as the order arrived on the Friday, the company placed an order with ITC and tools were delivered the next morning (Saturday). Discussing why the company turned to cutting tools from ITC, Noble says: “We’ve been successfully working with ITC for over 12 years and they supply all the cutting tools for machining our plastic components. The service, support and technical advice is surpassed only by the quality of their tooling.

“The ability to supply 60 cutting tools on a Saturday morning as a next-day delivery service during the coronavirus pandemic speaks volumes for ITC and its service,” he adds. “But from a technical perspective, we were having problems some years ago with our cutting tools gripping parts and lifting thin sheets from the vacuum bed of the AXYZ machines during processing. ITC provided first-class technical support by investigating our existing tools, materials and cutting parameters, and subsequently supplying new tools and machining strategies that resolved our issues. Since then, we’ve had every confidence in ITC and their tools.”
Observing UK Government and WHO safe-working guidelines, CNC Routing has moved many of its office-based staff to homeworking, while the huge influx of work has also seen the company change from a two-shift to a three-shift pattern.
“As a business we are conscious of the health and safety of our staff, and all employees are provided with suitable PPE. By moving to 24-hour production with three shifts, our shop-floor staff levels are naturally reduced. Furthermore, each of our three AXYZ routing machines are 3 m apart, so our factory floor automatically exercises social distancing.”
From a production perspective, the company has one AXYZ router with bed dimensions of 4880 x 2635 mm, while two further machines have a slightly smaller bed. This allows CNC Routing to place four 8 x 4’ sheets on the machine bed at any one time.
“The large machine beds allow us to set up four parts at a time,” explains Noble. “Additionally, each router incorporates a twin cutting head, which we can set at different widths. For the sneeze screens, we have spaced the cutting heads at a distance of 1230 mm apart, so we can cut two sheets simultaneously. With three twin-spindle routers running 24 hours a day, the performance and reliability of the ITC solid-carbide routing tools is essential.”
Initially, CNC Routing placed an order for 60 Clearcut series single-flute routers (6 mm diameter) from ITC. Commenting upon the tools, Noble says: “From experience, we know that these tools perform really well, have exceptional tool life and, with the upward spiral flute geometry, are perfect for machining thin sheets without lifting from the vacuum bed. This confidence in the 180 Clearcut series has been confirmed, as we’ve run the tools at 24,000 rpm up to the full 6 mm depth of cut at cutting speeds of 7 m/min. These machining parameters are beyond the recommended cutting conditions, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Luckily, the quality of the ITC Clearcut series can handle the increased speeds and feeds with ease.

“Despite running at significantly increased machining parameters, the 6 mm diameter cutters can comfortably process more than 50 sheets before we have to change the tool,” he continues. “After 50 sheets, the cutting performance and edge finishes are as good as they are on the very first sheet that we cut with a new tool. The only reason we change the tools after machining 50 sheets is because the protective film over the acrylic, PETG and polycarbonate sneeze screen sheets begins to fray slightly and ‘fluff up’.”
Nobody has a crystal ball, especially during a pandemic that is likely to change the face of UK manufacturing. However, CNC Routing is in a somewhat envious position compared with most manufacturers. The company has already manufactured 8000 sneeze screens in a week and has another 8000 to produce imminently.
Says Noble: “We are currently in the process of machining sneeze screens for supermarkets and, as the longevity of this situation continues and ‘non-essential’ retail companies re-open their doors for business, we expect to be making these sheets for everything from pharmacies and hardware stores to pet stores and other retail outlets. Added to this, we also have a strong order book with the healthcare sector for furniture, storage units and lockers that has to be fulfilled imminently. As a business, we’re very lucky that we can give all of our routing capacity to these essential services. We can do this as our regular retail work is naturally ‘on pause’. However, regardless of whether we are making sneeze screens, furniture or storage units for the health service, we know that we can rely on specialist cutting tools from ITC, even during a crisis.”
For further information

Nissan stamping line unveiled

In early March Nissan unveiled a £52m extra-large press line at its UK manufacturing plant in Sunderland as preparations begin for the next-generation Qashqai.

Nissan Sunderland Plant 06/03/2020
COO Ashwani Gupta unveils XL Press #2

The Komatsu press, which weighs more than 2000 tonnes and has taken 18 months to install, is part of a £400m total investment by Nissan in readiness for the new Qashqai, which will be the third-generation of the crossover.
Nissan’s investment in the new press includes a recycling system to segregate and process scrap, along with upgrades to the existing blanking line, which will supply flat blanks to the machine. The press is capable of stamping more than 6.1 million vehicle panels a year, with a maximum combined force of 5400 tonnes. At the opening ceremony, the whole team behind the press project signed the first panel
– a fender for the new Juke.
March 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the first Juke to roll off the line in Sunderland. The all-new version has been made exclusively in Sunderland since October last year.
Steve Marsh, vice president – manufacturing at Nissan Sunderland, says: “Watching the first perfect panels coming off the press was a proud moment, and is a reflection of the tremendous skills we have here on Wearside.”
For further information

First Güdel automated press line in Europe

The Press Automation business unit of Güdel has carried out its first European project, a complete press line for Fagor, a well-known press manufacturer in Spain’s Basque region.

In the project, the customer’s existing press lines, which have an output of 7-8 parts per minute, have been enhanced with the latest Güdel technology. The task of delivering this press plant to a large car manufacturer involved the resources and expertise of the entire Güdel Press Automation unit.
The front-of-line (FoL) equipment consists of two blank carriages with scissor-lift tables, fanners with automatic magnet adjustment, a high-speed double-axis gantry for de-stacking the sheets, plus an input conveyor, output conveyor, and a centring unit for each. In total, Güdel supplied seven RoboSpeed systems, designed for a maximum output of 15 strokes per minute, to transfer parts between a total of six Fagor presses – one servo press and five mechanical presses.
With regard to the end-of-line (EoL) scope of supply, this consists of a shuttle and a double-axis gantry, which places the finished parts ergonomically on a belt conveyor. To ensure that changeover times are kept short, the entire automation system uses automatic tool-change devices. Ahead of the installation at the end user’s premises, three Güdel RoboSpeed systems and two presses were installed as part of an in-house trade fair held by Fagor. A number of interested parties, including various decision makers at well-known automotive manufacturers and suppliers, visited to view these systems.
One of the challenges during the installation phase was that part of an existing press line failed. This meant that the new press line with Güdel automation, which was still being commissioned, had to rise to the challenge of producing parts early in order to safeguard manufacturing.
For further information