Historically we have found that every time we suffered a bottleneck it’s been due to a process that we didn’t have in house or control of. For this reason, we have continually invested and diversified to bring as many of the individual manufacturing processes under our own roof as possible and enable us to offer a true start to finish service using the best and most modern equipment available.
Combination Punch Fibre Laser Profiling:
In the early 90’s Laser Cutting revolutionised our industry and established itself as the go to process for profiling sheet metalwork, it enjoyed a 20-year clear run with CO2 laser technology coexisting alongside CNC Punching Machines. Then Fibre Technology jolted the laser industry to the core, the speeds and quality went up, the power consumption went down and suddenly, the machines could produce products almost at comparable speeds to the CNC punches. However, the two stand-alone technologies still demonstrate both benefits and limitations. We set out to exploit the very best of both technologies, make the most of the benefits and almost eliminate the limitations.
Fibre Laser on thinner sheet is quick, incredibly quick and we routinely cut at speeds pushing 30m per minute, it can do complex shapes, etch identifiers, and leaves a beautiful almost burr free edge. But that’s it, it is a wonderful cutting technology and does that one job exceptionally well but don’t ask it to do anything else.
CNC Punching technology is quicker, multiple holes and shapes can be achieved quicker and cheaper than laser cutting even fibre laser cutting and we can operate at hit speeds up to 1000 hits per minute at which point the noise becomes almost a hum! But the real benefit is in having fully adjustable and indexable rams, this means we can adjust not just where we punch but how hard and how deep and to incredibly tight tolerances, we can even hold the ram on the sheet at a set pressure and then move it around which opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Form tools, impression tools, rolling wheels etc allow us to include offsets, countersinks, rolled threads, louvres, scribed lines, and an almost limitless range of special forms right there at the cutting stage. It is that flexible we can even load a marker pen into the turret and draw pictures, use a tungsten tip and “dot matrix” print onto steel or be that precise we can cut the plastic coating without marking the material underneath! But where a punch is limited is in it’s ability to cut complex shapes, it can’t free cut in curves and radii, it is restricted to the “nibbling” process of multiple very close together hits which achieve a result that will never be in the same league as a clean cut laser edge.
So we got both, bolted together in one machine, plus we added in an independent tapping unit to machine cut threads and do away with the secondary process of using captive nuts, we then increased the sheet size up to 3m x 1.5m, added in a fully automatic lights out capable sheet loader/unloader and palletised parts sorting! It’s a monster, at the forefront of technology and truly is one of the most versatile, flexible, productive and industry leading machines in the world. There are currently very few machines in the UK that can come close to these capabilities and even fewer of these are operated by sub-contract manufacturers. Many companies claim to be “market leading” others claim to have the newest and best machines, but we really do.
If you’re still reading and by some miracle still interested then here’s the link to the manufacturer. When it talks about options, extras, automation and software then the answer is yes we have.
We offer CNC multi axis capabilities up to 3m long or with exceptionally large “long stroke” opening to 620mm. This gives a huge amount of flexibility as to what we can produce.
We currently operate Amada HFE M2 Press Brakes equipped with 8 axis CNC control and full “touch pad” operation, network connectivity and graphical bend planning. Operating over a variety of bed and stroke lengths to suit.
Our Welding bays are equipped with the latest equipment from both Miller and Kemppi both market leaders for top end industrial welding plant.
Our Miller water cooled TIG plants offer full arc shaping programs, pulse control, wave forming and Miller’s “Blue Lightning” HF Arc Starter which when combined with the Bluetooth connected control pedals allows unrivalled levels of operator control. This allows us to TIG weld most materials to the highest standards.
Our Kemppi MIG plants offer comparable levels of control and flexibility, again offering full digital control with easy to use large digital displays. These are true workhorse machines capable of enduring long hard shifts of continuous operation. Alongside these we also have Kemppi Pulse & Synergic MIG Plants set up and used exclusively for high performance aluminium welding.
All these processes are carried out in dedicated areas by skilled operators. They are equipped with “Plymovent” filtered fume extraction and the latest air fed reactive helmets offering the greatest levels of operator comfort and protection.
Design and Programming:
We have invested in multiple seats of design and programming software, we operate both the Radan & NC Express 3D CAD/CAM systems which enable us to interface with most mainstream design software including Autocad, Solidworks, & numerous others. This means we can take customer designs straight into our systems for rapid development and production.
We have two independent Powder Coating lines, each fed from a central “Coolphos” degreasing and pre treatment area. The latest equipment is supplied by Gema Switzerland GmbH, again a market leader in their field with their OptiFlex Pro powder guns acknowledged as being amongst the best there is. Combined with Gema’s specialist booth, filtration and extraction technology this offers unrivalled levels of flexibility and capability.
We have oven sizes capable of taking up to 4m in length. Both ovens offer digital temperature, time and cooling controls, remote gas burners, and internal trunking to give the most even and uniform levels of heat distribution. They are equipped with multiple internal sensors to continuously monitor the temperatures and spread and are regularly checked, calibrated and certified by the powder manufacturers to ensure the quality of bake and consistency of finish.
Every factory needs them, but no matter how we try to dress them up there are certain bits of plant and machinery that are indispensable but utterly dull. Rest assured we’ve got them:
Guillotine, Pillar Drills, Sheet Rolls, Fly Presses, Spot Welders, Stud Welders, Insert Guns, De-burring Machines, Chop Saws, Band Saws, Back stands, Notch Grinders, and a truck load of hand tools, all dull as dish water but used daily.
The Highly Skilled Man in the Corner:
The connoisseur of the weird and wonderful one offs, our man in the corner doesn’t concern himself with the thousands, the hundreds or even the ten offs most of the time. He does his own thing and very often we don’t even know what it is! But what we see coming out of the corner is very often art, it may be a fuel tank for an historic Formula 1 car or modern GT Racer but it requires skill and a lifetime of experience to handcraft aluminium into some of the special projects that he does. It’s old school, it’s skilled, but it’s still very much got its place.
Just don’t call him old… or expect him to pay for coffee.
We pride ourselves in maintaining a Supply Chain of not just the highest quality but also to the highest standards of ethics and trust. We’ve been using most of our suppliers for many years and have built relationships where we understand each other businesses. This means we won’t ask for the impossible and they won’t send us anything that doesn’t meet our standards.
The majority of our Ferrous materials are single sourced within the UK and originate from Welsh Steel Plants, with a few exceptions on specialist materials that come from Scandinavian or European Mills. We try to avoid low cost bulk steel as we believe it is a false economy, the quality is often lower and variable which results in reduced processing speeds and greater wastage. The source is often unclear or unaudited and as a result the working conditions unknown. Now whilst we admit that the Welsh Valleys can indeed be pretty grim, we have the utmost confidence that our steel is produced in environments where the workforce is not exploited or exposed to undue risk.
Our Non-Ferrous materials are sourced in a similar way although predominantly using imported stock. All materials have full traceability and conformity certification can be supplied on request.
For our Powder Coating materials, we again source from reputable tier one manufacturers, the vast majority coming from the two biggest global brands where conformity, repeatability and consistency are of the highest standards. This helps ensure that what you order one month looks the same as what you get six months later.