In August 2021, a pair of BT40 vertical machining centres built in Taiwan by Leadwell was supplied by UK and Ireland agent WH-Lead to the Holmfirth factory of HB Bearings, which less than a year previously had increased its turnover by one third through the acquisition of Gamet Bearings.
Low-volume manufacture of both bearing ranges, which include precision radial, taper roller, deep groove ball, cylindrical roller and angular contact, as well as many other types, is now under one roof at the Holmfirth factory, where a purpose-built extension houses some of the production equipment from Gamet Bearings.
The new Leadwell machines, a four-axis V-30iF model with rotary table and a five-axis V-40iT trunnion-type machining centre, strengthen the company’s production capacity. A wide range of materials are involved, including stainless steel, tool steel, plastics, bronze, aluminium and exotic alloys. The bearings are often specials, new designs or obsolete types that may need to be reverse-engineered to keep old manufacturing plant, steel mills, mining equipment, oil rigs or classic cars in operation.
Graham Hirst, managing director of HB Bearings/Gamet Bearings, says: “We have prioritised the purchase of these Taiwanese machines ever since we bought our first one, a machining centre, more than 25 years ago. We sold it when the two new machines arrived, with a view to pre-empting its eventual failure. However, right to the end it still milled dowel holes in 62 HRc steel to within 10 µm.
“We now have five machining centres from Leadwell, including two recent models installed in August 2017, which are just as well-built, accurate and reliable.”
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