£147m investment in manufacturing

The Government is investing £147m in the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge with the aim of transforming UK manufacturing capabilities through the development and adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs).

This investment will raise productivity by 30%, accelerate the drive to net zero emissions and create thousands of highly skilled jobs. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, has already awarded the challenge its first investment package of £20m to 14 projects in round 1.

For further information www.ukri.org

Esprit 4.5 now available

DP Technology, maker of the Esprit CAM system, has released Esprit 4.5, a multifunctional update that includes features such as an enhanced user interface, a new turning feature offset, and new support for circle segment tools.

The updated user interface features clearer, more consistent icons, while the ribbon commands have been reorganised for a more intuitive experience. In addition to improving ease of use, these updates give the Esprit interface a more streamlined, higher-end look and feel.

The new turning feature offset lets the user offset individual elements of a turning feature in the axial and radial directions to program median tolerances or leave stock for subsequent processes, all without modifying geometry. Also included is an offset calculator that allows the user to easily program a target diameter or apply standard ISO tolerances.

Esprit’s new support for circle segment tools lets users parametrically define and create milling tools with oval, barrel, tapered or lens profiles, without the need to create custom tool geometry. These tools offer several benefits over conventional milling tools in many five-axis applications, including larger axial depth of cut, superior surface finish, higher stability and reduced tool wear. As well as simplifying circle segment tool creation, parametric tool definition allows Esprit to better optimise tool-path strategies that use such tools.
“Before we release any product update, we take the time to ensure it’s packed with features that make a difference to our customers,” says Tania Campanelli, director of R&D at DP Technology. “Version 4.5 is dedicated to improving the user experience and, as always, ensuring our customers stay as efficient as possible.”

For further information www.espritcam.com

ITC meets tooling needs of subcontractor

When Steve Knowles founded Newport CNC over 10 years ago, like many start-ups he bought his first machine and worked evenings and weekends in his new venture while retaining a day job. Knowles’ first port of call was to buy a Haas VF4SS machining centre and use cutting tools from Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC).

Building its early success in the high-end automotive and aftermarket industries, Newport CNC is now entering its 11th year of business, which has been celebrated with several investments. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had planned to move into a new factory and purchase its fifth Haas machine, a ST20Y turning centre. The lockdown created several obstacles, but the five-employee business has now moved into its new 4700 sq ft facility and installed its Haas turning centre.

Commenting upon the challenge, Knowles says: “Our new facility is three times the size of the previous site, and the Haas machine is the first turning centre we’ve installed. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’re confident that our new machine and new facility are a bedrock for us to build an even stronger business in the future.”

One of the bedrocks of the company from day one has been cutting tools from ITC and, alluding to this, Knowles says: “I’ve used ITC cutting tools for over 20 years and they’ve never let me down. More than 80% of our work is aluminium machining and ITC’s solid-carbide cutters for this material are beyond compare. I’ve had sales reps from virtually every tooling company trialling tools down the years and none of them can match the tool life, productivity, surface finishes or overall performance of the ITC range for aluminium. Over 80% of our cutting tools are now supplied by ITC and we have little interest in wasting time trialling alternate tools; time has proven that we’re already using the best tools available for our business.”

The Milton Keynes company typifies subcontract manufacturing by serving the aerospace, electronics, medical, motorsport and automotive sectors, manufacturing everything from commercial airline seats and high-end bespoke automotive work, through to participating in the recent Ventilator Challenge. Offering three, four and five-axis machining, as well as Y-axis turning capability, Newport CNC is well equipped to meet industry’s demands. With 75% of the company’s work revolving around aluminium machining and the remaining 25% being a mixture of titanium alloys, plastics and stainless steel, ITC has been instrumental in the tooling strategies adopted by Newport CNC.

For a number of years, the ITC 3081 solid-carbide end mill for aluminium has been the go-to cutter.
“We started with several ITC solid-carbide end mills, but found our sweet spot with the 3081 series for high-feed machining – it has been a revelation,” says Knowles. “The metal removal rates are beyond compare and the surface finishes are outstanding. We’re using these end mills for everything from high removal roughing through to pocketing, profiling and finishing.”

With such a glowing reference for the 3081 series, Newport CNC now uses the range with diameters that include 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 16 and 20 mm, with a selection of square-end and corner radii from 0.5 to 3 mm.

As the company has evolved, so has its reliance on the range of products from ITC. The company has subsequently adopted the Britcut series of two and four-flute end mills in diameters of 4, 6, and 10 mm. With centre cutting, facet relief and a 30° helix, Newport CNC has selected the TiAlN-coated option for machining various materials. The success of both the 3081 and Britcut range has since paved the way for the introduction of the 3152 three-flute, short-length AlTiN-coated end mills, the 2112 and 2012 series ball-nose end mills for profiling, and the 4071 series of chamfer tools.

ITC has been a longstanding distributor of Widia solid-carbide end mills, so when it widened its scope by adding Widia indexable tools, Newport CNC trialled the Widia VSM11 high-feed 40 mm diameter face mill. Comparing the Widia VSM11 against an industry-leading manufacturer, the VSM11 outperformed the competitor with a tool life improvement of 30% and a productivity increase of 40%, all while reducing the cost-per-insert against the previous tool. The business has since added the VSM11 80 mm diameter face mill to its inventory list.
As a relatively small subcontract machine shop that serves a multitude of sectors, Newport CNC can never second guess what type of work will be coming through the door next.

“We have a standardised tooling strategy on each of our machining centres,” explains Knowles. “Each machine has a 24-tool capacity and the first 10 positions are standardised across all of them. The first two tools are the 80 and 40 mm Widia VSM11 face mills. We can change the inserts from the XDCT aluminium grade, and geometry to the XDPT steel insert designation, in a matter of minutes. This prepares us for rough machining and facing every job that comes through the door, regardless of whether its aluminium, steel, stainless or heat-resistant alloys. It also keeps our inventory and costs to a manageable level.

“Positions three through to 10 are ITC solid-carbide end mills,” he adds. “Once again, the 3081 series plays a prominent role with a 16 mm diameter end mill featuring a 1 mm radius slotting into position three. Tool positions four, five and six also house 3081 series end mills, in diameters reducing from 10 to 3 mm. These first six positions give us complete flexibility for everything from high-feed roughing and facing, down to slotting and finish-machining operations.

“In our other prominent tooling positions, we have 3 and 6 mm ball-nose tools that support all our needs when it comes to intricate machining, profiling and finishing of precision features. Beyond these positions, we have a spot drill, chamfer tool and a couple of standard tap sizes, which leaves many carousel positions free. We can rapidly fill these positions if new jobs with challenging features or material types arrive. This strategy allows us to standardise our tool positions and overhang lengths, while giving staff familiarity with the system.”

For further information www.itc-ltd.co.uk

Measurement conference next month

Test and measurement specialist HBK is counting down to its virtual ‘Product Physics Conference’, taking place on 13-15 October.

The HBK Product Physics Conference will bring together international users and partners to learn more about how leaders of the global test and measurement community overcome their challenges. A wide range of topics will be covered, including data insight, strain measurement, and sound and vibration analysis. Attendees at this free, user-centric online event can also join interactive discussion panels, dedicated networking areas and presentations.

For further information https://is.gd/ogoroq

DMC names Nigel Robinson as COO

The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC), a new advanced manufacturing venture by KW Special Projects, has appointed Nigel Robinson as COO to deliver the establishment and growth of this stand-alone additive manufacturing (AM) production facility.

With extensive engineering, operations, quality and management knowledge, as well as a focus on next-generation AM technologies, Robinson is a key hire within the leadership team and will be working directly with DMC CEO, Kieron Salter.

Robinson will be focused on the launch and growth of the DMC from an innovation viewpoint, ensuring the latest technologies are represented, as well as building a team around key staff members and developing the client portfolio. With a background in mechanical engineering and AM, his recent experience includes working as CEO at one of the largest AM production sites in the UK.
For further information