Increased hardness testing accuracy

Bowers Group has provided NMB Minebea UK Ltd with an Innovatest Falcon 507 Vickers, Knoop and Brinell hardness tester to ensure accurate testing of manufactured parts.

The Falcon hardness tester has enabled the company to increase its PTP testing results from Class 3 to Class 1, deliver a faster turnaround of samples and increase the accuracy of tests performed. Jason Woodhouse, laboratory manager at NMB Minebea, says: “Since investing in the Falcon, the accuracy of our hardness testing has improved by 60%. It’s not just accurate, it’s really easy to use.”

NMB Minebea manufactures a variety of cold-form parts for aerospace and military clients, including bearings and landing gear. Hardness must be accurately measured to prevent fracture during the cold-form process, which can result in components having to be scrapped, as well as damage to the dies and tooling on machines.
Says Woodhouse: “We chose the Falcon 507 because it offered us all the features we needed at the right price. It was the perfect balance for us. Most people in the metallurgy lab use the hardness tester anything from once a day, to several times, depending on the demands of the current project.”

NMB Minebea can now test to ASTM and British standards on the hardness tester, validate paperwork, and export all results to Microsoft Windows. To ensure the hardness tester is as accurate as possible, it is calibrated by an external company every 6 months.

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CMM reaches quality summit

Summit Engineering (Birmingham) Ltd has invested in a Crysta-Apex CNC CMM from Mitutoyo. The CMM was installed in a newly-built, environmentally controlled inspection facility at the company’s Solihull production facility.

Director Kevin McCormick says: “Although the advanced Crysta-Apex CNC CMM was marginally more expensive than the other machine that made our shortlist, given the importance we place on quality, we were happy to place an order. As it had the ideal capacity for inspecting the vast majority of our components, we specified a Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex CNC CMM with an XYZ capacity of 705 x 1005 x 605 mm.”

Summit Engineering quality engineer Stephen Smolak adds: “Following its trouble-free installation, the new Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex CMM soon began making a significant contribution to ensuring the premium quality of our output. Due to its simple operation, soon after their initial training sessions, our operators quickly became confident its use. It helped that, while they were still learning, support was always available via Mitutoyo’s online service.

“In addition to inspecting large, one-off components, we are also able to load multiple smaller parts on to the CMM’s bed, recall the relevant program, then perform a rapid, fully automated CNC mass inspection routine,” continues Smolak. “Dependant on the customer’s requirements, we now archive the generated inspection results or print-off in-depth reports.

“Due to the specifications of our new Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex CMM it is able to inspect our most complex components, as well as those with extremely challenging accuracy requirements. In addition, our new CMM’s speed and ease of use, means that, not only is it capable of inspecting our current levels of output, it will also handle any future anticipated rises in production.”

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30,000 control systems milestone

A strategic manufacturing outsourcing specialist celebrated a major milestone this month when it delivered the 30,000th control system to Mazak UK.

PP Control & Automation has been working with the machine-tool builder for more than 27 years, and the latest partnership has seen it play a key role in the design and production of the new CV5-500, a simultaneous five-axis machining centre.

PPC&A, which employs over 200 people at its facility in Cheslyn Hay, used its expertise to support the design and build of a new configurable control system and interconnectivity solution. The concept had to facilitate both efficient build at Cheslyn Hay, and simple and effective integration when assembling the machine tools at Mazak’s facility in Worcester. The challenge was even greater when considering the need to achieve a highly competitive price point.

“The relationship dates back to 1993 when Mazak’s senior management team in Japan saw something ‘different’ in our approach and company-wide focus on quality, resulting in placement of the very first order,” explains Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation. “As the years have gone by, the relationship has become more interlinked, with PP C&A increasingly invited to be involved in the design stage of new machine builds.”

Mazak UK engineering director Dave Fisher adds: “PP C&A is one of our critical partners, supporting our ever-changing needs in both engineering and production. The relationship works because we both bring our own areas of expertise to the table, challenging and developing ideas that deliver mutual benefits and unrivalled machining performance for our customers.”

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Former Finland PM selects Surfcam

For many years, even when he was Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä has relaxed by designing and milling a variety of items.

Now he has taken his hobby to a higher level, with a new four-axis CNC machine tool and Surfcam CADCAM software from Hexagon’s global portfolio. He machines aluminium, brass, plastic and wood, and was looking to upgrade his milling machine and CNC router, along with the software to drive them.

Before entering politics, Sipilä was an industrialist, owning a number of manufacturing companies, which gave him his first taste of machining. And he quickly realised that physically making things with his hands helped him to relax and solve abstract business issues.

Surfcam has totally changed how Sipilä uses both CAD and CAM. Typically, he today creates a 3D model in Surfcam Designer and exports it into Surfcam Traditional for producing fast, accurate tool paths. He is particularly impressed with the ‘Waveform Roughing’ strategy for milling aluminium and brass. “My CNC machine has a spindle speed of 24,000 rpm, so Waveform means I can have light cutting with fast feed rates,” he says.

Sipilä has already undergone initial training on Surfcam Designer and basic two- and three-axis machining, and will complete training on four- and five-axis tool paths later in the year. As Prime Minister he was not able to pursue his love of producing lifestyle products as much as he would have liked, but now his duties as an MP mean he has more time – and with his new machine tools and software he is looking forward to creating many more.”

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Updated bending software at QBTEC

In 2017, Netherlands-based catering equipment specialist QBTEC purchased a SafanDarley R-Brake for the automated production of boilers and grease drawers used in its frying systems.

With the R-Brake, the press brake and robot are integrated into one system. The R-Brake has a fully automatic tool and gripper change connected to the machine. These systems and the product are programmed offline using RoboBend offline simulation software.
Since the installation of the R-Brake, an increasing number products have been programmed at QBTEC using the offline software. As the company gained more experience with the system, it developed a wish list of features it would like added to the software to further improve the bending process and work even more efficiently. These wishes have been met and SafanDarley recently updated the software at QBTEC to the latest version.

In the latest software, the 3D files are processed in AutoPOL, SafanDarley’s 3D system for programming press brakes offline. AutoPOL determines the best bending sequence before RoboBend ensures the correct calculation of the robot movements in order to easily automate a new product.

This update ensures that QBTEC can also process small series runs automatically to limit the storage of material. When the products are programmed using the offline software they are sent to the WLM (WorkLoadManager), where the amount of each product is entered. The different products are automatically bent and stacked in sequence, without operator intervention.

QBTEC recently purchased two new SafanDarley press brakes, including an H-Brake 230T (6 m capacity) for the production of long stainless-steel blades.
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