True to form

A global industrial high-shear mixing solutions specialist has selected advanced EDM technology from GF Machining Solutions. Silverson Machines, based in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, has recently invested in two new state-of-the-art die-sink EDM machines.

The machines, AgieCharmilles Form P 600 models, were installed in Silverson’s production facility last year and are being used, primarily, to machine complex, high-precision rotor/stator workheads; integral components used in the company’s best-selling high-shear industrial mixers.
For over 60 years Silverson has been at the forefront of industrial mixing technology and innovation, supplying standard products that include laboratory scale mixers and assemblies, pilot scale mixers, batch mixers, in-line mixers, powder/liquid mixing systems and bottom-entry mixers, as well as customised and turnkey system solutions, to a growing global customer base.
Silverson products are used and specified by customers operating in a number of processing and manufacturing industries, such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, lube oils and petrochemicals. Customers in over 150 countries are currently on the books at Silverson and, to service and support this base, the firm operates a network of associated companies, distributors and agents in more than 50 countries.
The company’s mixing systems and solutions help customers reduce process times by as much as 90% in some instances. In addition to delivering a distinct speed advantage, Silverson’s mixing systems are said to be inherently versatile and cost-effective, with one mixing machine being able to perform a range of different operations like blending, emulsifying, disintegrating, reducing particle sizes and gelling. Such versatility is achieved by the incorporation of interchangeable workheads.

Silverson workheads are precision machined units that are manufactured in different sizes and have different designs and configurations depending on their function and end use application. Workheads are made from 316L stainless steel but, for special purpose applications, titanium and exotic alloys such as Hastelloy can also be used. The workheads feature a number of integral components, such as rotor blades, and circular stators and screens with different-shaped holes, apertures, slots or perforations.
EDM spark erosion technology is deployed by the company to machine its stators and screens.
The two new Form P 600 machines have replaced two older RoboForm die-sink EDM machines purchased from GF Machining Solutions some years ago. Silverson’s latest machines provide the company with improved productivity and performance, and are equipped with sophisticated digital generators and feature a number of on-board smart technologies that help Silverson achieve higher part accuracies, improved surface finishes, reduced cycle times, reduced electrode wear and greater process reliability.
Says Alan Pepper, head of manufacturing at Silverson Machines: “We regularly invest in new advanced machine tool technologies as a route to improving our performance and competitiveness. EDM is a mainstream manufacturing technology for us, and has been for some time. However, to meet the growing global demand for our industrial mixers and optimise the machining of sophisticated next-generation workheads, it became evident that we needed to strengthen, and make further investment in our spark erosion capacity and capabilities.”
Silverson has a long-established relationship with GF Machining Solutions and, in addition to investing in AgieCharmilles EDM die-sinking machines, has also purchased two Mikron vertical machining centres from the company in the past.
Says Pepper: “Having talked to GF Machining Solutions about our immediate and future requirements, we were introduced to the new Form P die-sink machines.
We were particularly interested the performance of the new machines’ ISPG generators and IQ technology, supplied
as standard on the machines.”
The Intelligent Speed Power Generators (ISPG) in the Form P 600 machines are said to deliver improved surface quality, material removal and accuracy. As a result of using this technology, electrode wear is reduced during roughing and finishing operations, irrespective of whether copper or graphite electrodes are used.
The Innovative Quality (IQ) technology from GF Machining Solutions has been designed to reduce, and in some cases completely eliminate, electrode wear when using graphite or copper electrodes. This technology helps manufacturers improve their productivity by reducing job set-up times and facilitates improved machine utilisation. In addition, IQ lowers costs by reducing the number of electrodes required.

“Since being installed, the Form P 600 machines have been working around the clock,” states Pepper.
“We are particularly pleased with the low electrode wear and are impressed by the speed of the machines and their ability to produce repeatable, high-quality burr-free slots and perforations.”
In the recent past, prior to investing in spark erosion machines from GF Machining Solutions, Silverson manufactured its workhead components using a combination of turning and welding technologies. Screens, which were bought-in, were made from fine metal mesh and welded to the turned machined stator. This process created a number of issues. The weld lines were not aesthetically pleasing and created potential weak spots and contamination areas in
the workhead.
The use of spark erosion machine tools in conjunction with copper and graphite electrodes has enabled Silverson to simplify and optimise its manufacturing processes, and achieve improved accuracies, reduced cycle times and costs.
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XYZ to unveil latest ProtoTrak control

The next generation of ProtoTrak control systems from XYZ Machine Tools will exhibited for the first time at the Southern Manufacturing exhibition (5-7 February, Farnborough) on stand J210.

Three ProtoTrak controls have been developed. The KMX is specifically for company’s range of turret mills, while the RMX and RLX supersede the existing ProtoTrak controls on the company’s bed mills and lathes respectively.
Available as either a two- or three-axis CNC, the ProtoTrak KMX is able to create programs without any requirement for G-codes. Furthermore, the AGE (Auto Geometry Engine) facility gives the control the ability to calculate missing print data while programming. At Southern Manufacturing the ProtoTrak KMX will be shown on an XYZ KMX 2000 turret mill.
XYZ’s bed mills benefit from the RMX ProtoTrak with its 15.6” touchscreen, which extends the control’s advantage by further simplifying programming operations. The RMX also introduces additional programming help with the EPA (Enhanced ProtoTrak Assistance) feature, which provides instant access to in-depth on-screen assistance for users at any point. This can take the form of step-by-step instructions to guide users through elements such as cutting parameters, or a series of video tutorials.
XYZ’s ProTurn lathes now feature the RLX ProtoTrak control. As with the RMX system, the RLX also has a large touchscreen for improved user interaction. The makeover to the ProtoTrak controls sees a range of benefits added to both RMX and RLX systems, with gesture technology allowing fly-out windows to be integrated within the interface that can be accessed via a single swipe of the finger. An XYZ RLX 425 ProTurn lathe will highlight the features and benefits of the
RLX control.
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Optimise cutting with Esab digital solutions

To help fabricators and manufacturers drive continuous improvement in traceability, documentation, asset management, productivity and quality, Esab has revealed its newly developed Digital Solutions platform.

Esab Digital Solutions, including Esab WeldCloud and Esab CutCloud, is able to connect digital ecosystems for manual/robotic/automated welding and cutting automation, respectively.
The platform was officially demonstrated for the first time at the recent EuroBLECH 2018 exhibition in Germany, where it was powered by Microsoft Azure IoT and utilised the ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform from PTC.
“We collaborated with Microsoft because Azure allows for a reliable and secure architecture that sends data from a digitally connected system, directly to the cloud,” says Mike Pantaleano, VP data driven advantage/digital solutions, Esab. “Eliminating the need for an on-site server or large IT infrastructure especially helps job shops and smaller operations gain the benefits of data management. Our reference architecture using ThingWorx also allows for on-site and hybrid (on-site/cloud) configurations, enabling us to configure and scale a connected solution for companies of all sizes. The right digital solution lets customers focus on improving their core business activities.”
Without formal data analysis programs, welding and cutting operations tend to over-estimate equipment utilisation rates and under-estimate actual arc-on time when quoting products.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” states Pantaleano. “Some welding operations think they’re at 30 to 40% OEE when they’re actually in the mid-teens. The applications and dashboards that are part of Esab Digital Solutions enable customers to assess their current situation at a glance and then start building baseline numbers. Once they determine what their ‘steady state’ is, they can identify areas for improvement.”
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Gratnells showcases latest investments

At the recent Advanced Engineering show in Birmingham, Harlow-based Gratnells Engineering opted to showcase its latest laser technology developments. In 2018, the company invested in a new BLM LT Fiber machine, allowing it to expand its capabilities and ensure clients benefit from even faster turnaround times.

The new machine sits next to an existing LT5, a laser tube-cutting machine designed to cut from small to medium diameters and thicknesses of metal tubular sections. The LT Fiber allows tubes of any shape to be cut, along with the processing of special sections and even open shapes without any additional special equipment.
According to Gratnells, tube laser cutting is continuing to grow in popularity as it offers a quick route to a precise finish, eliminating conventional, time-consuming stages such as marking out, sawing and finishing, while delivering significant cost savings.
Investing in the latest laser technology has increased Gratnells Engineering’s factory efficiency by allowing unloading to various positions, with finished parts from one machine being unloaded while production continues uninterrupted on the other. The need to manually separate parts from different orders has also now been eliminated.
Gratnells’ factory can today turn around tube laser-cutting jobs within 3-5 days from receipt of order and, using sophisticated software, can process parts from a variety of media, including 3D models, XT files and SolidWorks. This capability is particularly beneficial for bespoke automotive and point-of-sale components where minimum quantities can start
at 1-off.
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Drentea invests €3m in production boost

Drentea, part of the Dutch VDB Group, has invested €3m in the improvement of output and sustainability at its factory.

The combination of machines in the production line at Drentea now consists of a Salvagnini S4 and P4, on which Drentea can punch, cut, twist and bend metal. In addition, a Salvagnini L5 fiber laser is accompanied by a fully automatic sorting centre. This fibre laser generates much more energy from the same amount of power, resulting in substantially lower energy consumption. By producing products on this new line, the company has increased both its production capacity and flexibility.
“We want to achieve further growth by continuing to invest in state-of-the-art production facilities,” says CEO Bert Top. “These investments contribute to a natural evolution towards smart industry and result in a doubling of production capacity.”
In addition, enormous progress is being made in the field of sustainable production. The expectation is that, using this method of processing, the percentage of waste will be reduced by at least 90%. Drentea has now succeeded in integrating its entire business activities in a sustainable circular manner.
“This time of transition to a sustainable manufacturing environment offers Drentea plenty of opportunities to realise its green ambitions,” says Top. “Here at Drentea we focus on smart designs, the complete re-use of materials, production without waste and the use of regionally sourced green energy.
“We want to control our own raw material chains and energy supplies,” he continues. “The time in which price was decisive only tilts to a time where sustainability has actually become measurable. With this new production line we are more than ready to take advantage of the possibilities that time will provide.”
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