Investing to meet demand

As part of an ongoing strategy of investing in manufacturing assets for maximum long-term benefit, so far in 2020 Dawson Shanahan has spent over £500,000 on new machinery.

Along with a further Miyano ABX turning centre and Schmid T200 orbital forge, which is for making plasma-nozzle components to reduce both material waste and cycle times, the company has also replaced an older machine with a more modern Studer CNC cylindrical grinder. Furthermore, a rotary transfer machine is being completely refurbished for CNC control, while cobots (collaborative robots) also form part of the investment.

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MTA names new president

The MTA’s first ever virtual AGM held earlier this month saw the association name its new president: Andy Hodgson, strategic lead – digitalisation at Siemens. Hodgson has played an active role in the MTA for many years as a board member and served as the technical committee chairman for the past two years, stepping down to take on this new role. He will serve a two-year term as president.

Hodgson, who has a wealth of experience in the manufacturing technologies sector, as well as first-hand experience of industry digitalisation, says: “It’s a great honour to be appointed as president of the MTA and I hope that I can build upon the successes we have shared and bring the projects we have started to fruition. I look forward to steering the association, supported by the board, through the troubled waters that still lie ahead with a pandemic still upon us and Brexit just around the corner.”

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Energy-saving tool grinders

Walter Ewag UK, a member of the United Grinding Group, reports that energy savings of up to 40% are possible through the optimised operation of its Walter Helitronic tool grinding and erosion machines by, for instance, sensible warm-up and shutdown routines, the recovery of thermal energy and enhanced production via machine control software routines.

This figure also includes an 11% reduction in the machines’ energy consumption because Walter now uses more environmentally-friendly components in builds compared with those available 15 years ago. All measures and claims are independently assessed by experts from the German Steinbeis Sustainable Energy Competence Centre.

Walter’s awareness of climate protection begins with the design and construction of its machines – for example, by utilising modern drives and improved part loading, compressed air and extraction, as well as via the use of energy-saving LED lights and frequency-controlled coolant pumps.

This ethos continues through production by optimised machine operation. Some of the technology improvements include feed and spindle drives: the use of efficient synchronous motors and regenerative braking energy feedback into the power grid, including linear motors in the vertical axis and passive weight compensation. Another enhancement is coolant supply via a frequency-controlled pump. Here, high-efficiency motors (class IE4) and up to six individually switchable coolant valves serve to optimise coolant supply.

Further advances include the use of LED lights in all machines, including the status light, and centralised ‘impulse’ lubrication, where the lubricating oil pump runs only for a few seconds until lubricating pressure builds sufficiently. The pump then switches off until the next lubrication cycle. In addition, each machine’s vapour separator is equipped with potentiometer control and a free-running fan wheel, which allows optimal adjustment of the extraction volume.

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Compact robot honing cell

Nagel is introducing a fully automatic horizontal honing machine for small bore diameters.
The new ECOHO-NE horizontal honing machine, which is available in the UK from Permat Machines, can work on small bore diameters up to 40 mm in diameter while offering a fully automatic changer for worn tools.

Principal among the innovations of the single-spindle honing machine is its integral robot cell, which performs many other functions in addition to workpiece handling. For example, the robot cell automatically changes the machine’s work tools as they wear, if a replacement is available in the designated tool magazine. The robot also automatically aligns the newly exchanged tools, thereby avoiding the need for downtime while manual alignment takes place.

On workpiece changing, if the robot cell recognises a workpiece pallet with new material, the machine is set up automatically, with automated exchange of fixtures, tools, measuring equipment and more.
As to measuring equipment, the robotic cell can be equipped with the required auxiliary stations, if desired. Automatic error correction and the evaluation of measurement data (SPC) are also feasible. Whether for pre-testing, re-measuring, brushing or oil-free parts, it is possible to configure everything individually; the robot takes over the handling of the parts.

The new horizontal honing machine is suitable for the small- and large-series production of workpieces made from a variety of materials, ranging from metal to glass or graphite. For large-series production, it is possible to extend the machine with a second honing unit.

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AMRC NW begins construction

Lancashire will become a leader in manufacturing innovation and sustainable economic growth, the UK’s regional growth minister said as he welcomed construction starting on the £20m University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in the northwest of England. Luke Hall, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, made the comments to mark the first steps in building the 4500 sq m applied research centre at the heart of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone in Preston. A grant from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal is helping to build the flagship facility.

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