Two custom bending cells, each comprised of an LVD Easy-Form press brake and Fanuc robots, have automated the production of complex formed parts for Germany-based Kuipers CNC-Blechtechnik – parts that could not be manufactured using a standard modular solution.
Today, Kuipers, a 100-year-old sheet metal subcontractor that serves a wide range of industries, uses the bending cells to handle complex interlaced parts with a high number of bends. In contrast to standardised automation solutions, the LVD bending cells offer the flexibility to program parts tailored to Kuipers’ requirements.
After the success of its first custom bending cell, the company decided to order a second cell – designed from the ground up and equipped with two movable Fanuc robots. The first robot feeds the parts from the material supply and pre-centres the blanks, while the second robot handles the components during the bending process, and stores and stacks manufactured parts.
Kuipers’ latest bending cell automatically sets up the press brake tools and the robot grippers. More than 80 m of tools are held within the cell. Four stations with flexible configurations handle the material supply. When completed, the parts are placed on a conveyor belt or stacked on pallets.
The press brake features LVD’s Easy-Form Laser adaptive bending system, which provides angle measurement and correction in real time.
For further information www.lvdgroup.com
Some 20 years ago, Alistair Bailey became disillusioned with working long hours for the benefit of someone else’s business, so he made the break and created JML Engineering to specialise in tube bending and tubular fabrications.
The business developed through investment in several pre-owned hydraulic tube-bending machines, with key customers providing steady orders for security (bollards and crash protection) and safety (hand railings and cages) products.
These old hydraulic machines served the business well, but as with all things, age started to tell and support for them from the manufacturers became non-existent. Recognising it was time to invest further in the business to improve productivity, Bailey researched the market and identified that a switch from hydraulically operated benders to all-electric was the way to go, a realisation which saw the arrival of his first BLM all-electric multi-stack tube bender, an Elect 52.
“The arrival of the BLM Elect 52 certainly eased the demands being placed on production due to business growing rapidly, and the machine handled the bending of smaller handrails with ease,” he says.
A key advantage of the BLM all-electric Elect machines is the speed at which they can be set-up and the guarantee that bends will be consistent, without any need for adjustment from the start of a batch to the last tube.
“On our hydraulic machines, on which we were very well versed, it could take 45 minutes to achieve a first off, after which there would be a degree of trial and error before we got the bend just as we wanted it. Now, we can complete the set-up in less than 15 minutes and know that the first tube will be within specification.”
For further information www.blmgroup.com
Ashmores Press Brake Tooling Ltd is celebrating 100 years of serving the metal-forming industry. Formed on 26 April 1919, Ashmores Press Brake Tooling is a small family firm and the longest established manufacturer of press brake tooling in the UK.
The company was set up by Harold Ashmore and his wife Harriet to make bedstead fittings, before the foundry side of the business was developed for engineering castings. The firm was taken over by James Weaver in 1930, which subsequently led to the production of castings for the machine tool industry.
In 1950, Danny Weaver entered the business and became managing director in 1963, a move that led to the establishment of a machine shop to complement the existing foundry business. Through its strong links with the machine tool trade, Ashmores subsequently began to manufacture press brake tools on a subcontract basis for companies such as Bronx Engineering.
In 1983, Danny Weaver’s son Guy entered the business, becoming managing director in 2000. The severe economic downturn in the early 1980s led to much-needed further diversification. As a result, the company started to market press brake tools directly to companies, rather than on a subcontract basis.
A century after its formation and Ashmores is still flourishing, manufacturing tools for a range of industries, including the computer, light fitting, supermarket shelving, shipping container and motorway barrier sectors. In addition, the company has recently supplied a new set of tools to M-Sport, the Ford Rally team, from which it will manufacture many specialist parts. Together with guillotine blades, both new and re-ground, Ashmores believes that it has the ability to serve the metal-forming industry for many more years to come.
For further information www.pressbraketool.co.uk
Rhodes Interform, the Group Rhodes business which specialises in bespoke composite and metal-forming machinery, has seen a sharp increase in demand for ‘Tuff Brake’ film, a product which eliminates markings on sensitive metal materials.
Rhodes Interform is the UK and Ireland distributor of Tuff Brake film, a material which, when placed over metal sheet, eliminates press brake die witness marks. These marks can be caused by the lower die when used for bending stainless steel, aluminium, sheet metal and pre-painted metals.
Steve Jackson, technical sales manager for Rhodes Interform, explains: “Companies producing metal parts are recognising how Tuff Brake Film can help them to reduce manufacturing costs, while increasing productivity. The film protects the workpiece and dies, and means that labour is saved as second operations are avoided. Ultimately, the end result is a better paint finish.”
A spokesperson for user, Durham Sheet Metal, says: “Rhodes Interform’s Tuff Brake is very effective at eliminating contamination and bend marks when forming stainless steel products.”
Tuff Brake Film is available from Rhodes Interform in 0.015″ and 0.03″ thicknesses. Bespoke sizes are available. Known for its longevity, the same piece of Tuff Brake Film can be used many times before there is a need to form fresh material, therefore maximising cost effectiveness.
For further information www.grouprhodes.co.uk
Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest runs a fabrication and welding course for learners and trainees who want to work within the engineering sector.
The NVQ qualification enables apprentices to demonstrate their occupational competence through gaining knowledge and experience of using industrial machine tools, which prompted the college to purchase a Morgan Rushworth press brake from Selmach Machinery.
“What’s really important to us is the training element of it,” states Malcolm York, curriculum area manager for mechanical engineering and marine at Pembrokeshire College. “Now we can be really accurate when bending substantial thicknesses of plate, which was difficult with our previous resource – a hand-operated bending machine.
“We knew Morgan Rushworth was a good company,” he adds “We didn’t want to get a Chinese import or something and find things going wrong within a year, or have to try to source spares. We needed reliability, so we went for the Morgan Rushworth.
“The machine has met our expectations. We had it serviced not long ago and also had more guys trained. Our learners are now able to bend plate accurately. With the Morgan Rushworth, they are using a similar machine to what they’d use in industry.”
York also has praise for the levels of aftercare and service provided by Selmach Machinery throughout the project: “I cannot fault the service – from getting quotes to the training provided – Selmach have been very patient with us. From when we placed the order to when the machine arrived, and from when Selmach put it into commission and trained us on it, they’ve been great.”
For further information https://selmach.com/