Mould changes in a limited space

Vehicle component manufacturer ElringKlinger, headquartered in Dettingen an der Erms, Germany, includes high-performance, lightweight plastic products such as oil pans and cam covers in its product portfolio for the global automotive industry.

Tobias Gerst, production engineer responsible for capital equipment procurement and process planning says: “Over the past few years we’ve grown steadily and are running out of space for our production equipment, so we’re sometimes faced with very cramped conditions.”

Space is particularly limited where two automated injection moulding machines operate over three shifts. The machines are located in an enclosure and mould exchange is only possible by entering a narrow, low door. These machines, positioned at an angle of about 120° to each other, require a mould change every 8-9 days. As there is no overhead crane in the factory, it is impossible to load the machines from above. Instead, until recently, operators used one of a number of standard transport carts – a challenging and physically exhausting task.

All that changed with the arrival of a compact transport cart supplied by Roemheld. The RWA 1600 is characterised by its small size, an electro-hydraulic lifting platform and a shuttle table equipped with hydraulically actuated ball bars. In addition, Roemheld can customise the carts to meet specific requirements.

With ball bars set into the support surface of the table, it is easy to move the dies manually in any direction. A special safety mechanism ensures that, during mould transportation, the ball inserts lower into the table surface so the die cannot move.
As standard, Roemheld offers three versions of the 1600 kg capacity cart with either four, six or eight ball bars. After detailed consultation, however, Gerst asked ElringKlinger to produce a special version with nine bars.

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NMIS joins AM association

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has become the first UK member of a new global trade group to advance sustainability in additive manufacturing (AM). NMIS is one of 12 leading organisations to join the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA), created to promote the environmental benefits of AM. AMGTA will serve as a key industry resource to educate the public and industry about these positive environmental benefits, in turn nurturing industry best practice and the adoption of AM as an alternative to traditional manufacturing.

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New president

Sandvik Coromant has appointed Helen Blomqvist as its new president (commencing 1 December), succeeding Nadine Crauwels, who becomes president of Sandvik Machining Solutions. Blomqvist has a solid background with Sandvik Coromant having joined the company in 2003 as a research engineer. In her 17 years she has held various managerial positions in product management and R&D, as well as sales. Blomqvist holds two patents and became Sandvik Coromant ‘Leader of the Year’ in 2018. She is a Swedish national and holds a PhD in structural chemistry from Stockholm University.

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Rapid tooling in demand

A UK engineering specialist has completed its largest-ever rapid tooling project as demand for shorter lead times intensifies. MetLase, which is a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Unipart, has designed and manufactured a stainless-steel tool measuring 4 m in diameter and capable of holding a component 2 m tall.

The company met the challenge of the major aerospace customer head-on, with manufacturing sign-off and delivery completed in just one month; 150 days quicker than the client would have previously expected. It is just one in a list of notable successes from the Yorkshire-based firm, which harnesses the design skills of a 25-strong engineering team and innovative joining solutions that replace traditional welding process.

“Typical conventional tooling approaches often take a massive block of material and then machine away the unrequired bits to form the tool,” says Richard Gould, business development manager at MetLase. “We take a different stance, basically laser cutting sheet metal, usually stainless steel or titanium, into lots of different elements. These are then joined to form the tool using our own manufacturing technique, removing the need to weld them together and endure the distortion that usually comes with this process.”

He continues: “Everything is controlled ‘in-house’ at MetLase. We’re always adding to our standardised feature library and parametric modelling system that allows us to instantly access formulas for creating tools for specific applications. All of this means we can work with customers to reduce lead times to weeks if not days, ensuring the client has more time for iterating their component design before signing off the tooling. As well as the time saving, our service can also help mitigate massive financial costs associated with last minute changes.”

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KMF invests in youngsters

Precision engineering solutions firm KMF Group has taken on five youngsters as the company continues its apprenticeship programme for the 10th year running. KMF Group invests in young people every year and, despite COVID-19, is not prepared to risk losing talent by changing its process now. The past decade has seen 100 apprentices come through the scheme, including 12 adult apprentices. This year, Shay Johnston, Aiden Sneyd, Oscar Evans, Kelly Palin and Kyle Marshall have joined the precision engineering business.
The apprentices will complete an engineering operating level 2 apprenticeship.

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