Protolabs moves quickly to support CPAP device

Three new mould tools that will produce tens of thousands of critical parts for a new breathing aid designed to support COVID-19 patients are being manufactured in Telford.

Protolabs has created a dedicated 20-strong team to work with existing customer, Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, to develop injection mould tooling in just three days. The company, which employs 450 people at its Telford headquarters, is helping the Formula One team and its partner, University College London, ramp up production of its CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) system.
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Business manager

Mills CNC, the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland, has appointed Richard Wilson as its business manager for the central and southern region, which includes the counties of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire.

Wilson, a seasoned machine-tool sales professional, replaces the previous incumbent, Nick Gunning, who has retired after nine years in post. In addition to his senior sales management credentials, Wilson also has considerable production engineering experience, gained at a leading UK aerospace manufacturer.
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Ventilator production drives orders

Ceratizit UK & Ireland is reporting “tremendous uptake” of its offer for free test tools, heavily discounted production tools, and technical support for those companies involved in the manufacture of ventilator and other related diagnostic equipment for the NHS during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 20 customers have so far benefitted from the cutting tool discount of 70% and whatever technical support they need to maximise the potential of those tools.
“The number of customers that we are able to help is increasing day-by-day,” says Tony Pennington, managing director. “It is testament to the versatility and ingenuity of the UK manufacturing base that they are able to quickly switch from machining parts for racing cars and aircraft, for example, to components that are going to help save lives. For many it means working with unfamiliar materials, which is where we can add our experience to the mix.”
Technical support is being provided remotely by Ceratizit UK & Ireland’s applications and technical sales engineers, with over 30 engineers available to answer customer questions relating to cutting tool data and application. For example, industry solutions engineer Michael May says the company has been supporting one customer from the motorsport sector, which is working as part of the UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge UK project.
“Initially, the request was for high-performance drills to produce holes up to 16xD in aluminium and steel,” he says. “We were then asked to develop our support through the provision of AluLine end mills and PCR-ALU plunge milling cutters.”
The offer from Ceratizit UK & Ireland is open to any company manufacturing parts for ventilator or associated diagnostic equipment.
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Audi to restart production in Europe

Audi will gradually initiate the restart of production at its plants in Europe during the coming weeks, following its temporary suspension in mid-March.

The upcoming regulated restart in the worldwide Audi production network, together with suppliers and service providers, will be co-ordinated with the Volkswagen Group, and will focus on a comprehensive package of measures for employee safety. In this respect, Audi is following the guidelines of the Robert Koch Institute and the regulations of health authorities in the respective country.
“Audi teams of experts have adapted processes with a view to health protection in consultation with specialist departments and works councils,” says board member for production Peter Kössler. Vehicle production at the Audi sites will be gradually ramped up from the end of April onwards, according to a fixed plan. Engine production in Győr, Hungary, has already started.
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Battling the virus with help from ITC

The switch from sign making to producing face masks at Swansea-based Valley Group arrived when Richard Dawson, a director of the company received a telephone call from a lifelong friend and well-respected doctor and clinical lead at the Hywel Dda University Health Board, who said its existing supplier of face masks had exhausted its capacity, leaving 10,000+ staff in desperate need of protection.

One critical factor for Valley Group was the cutting of 0.5 mm thick PETG face visors, which had to be free from burrs and sharp edges. However, the Valley Group has been a customer of ITC for more than a decade, so when it came to cut thin plastic sheets on its Biesse Klever routing machine, ITC recommended the Clearcut 180 series of solid-carbide, single-flute down-cut routing tools. Valley Group’s router runs at 24,000 rpm with a feed rate of 10 m/min. With demand rising, the company is aiming to start a second shift so it can increase production from 700 to 1400 masks per day.
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