Boeing contract seals record year for MetLase

MetLase, which is a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Unipart, has been announced as the tooling and fixture partner for Boeing’s newly constructed Sheffield facility in a deal that will initially increase the workforce by 15%. The contract seals a record year for the mechanical engineering specialist.

Using its 3D design capabilities, laser-cutting technology, and patented assembly and joining systems, Metlase will create lightweight, optimised machining fixtures designed to hold 11 different castings used in the production of actuation system components for the 737, 767 and 777 passenger jets. This contract with Boeing is the latest in a line of business wins that include strategic partnerships with blue-chip companies in sectors such as automotive, aerospace and energy – marking a 70% annual increase in sales for the Sheffield-based firm.
“The long-term agreement with Boeing marks a new chapter for our business as it will enable us to become an integral part of its future plans to develop intelligent and connected fixturing and tooling solutions,” explains Steve Dunn, managing director at MetLase. “Our unique approach and technology will see us produce optimised fixtures that are lighter than traditional alternatives, can be produced in weeks as opposed to months and, importantly, through our design iteration service, can be continually improved to deliver the best possible performance.
MetLase, which employs 25 people at its 12,500 sq ft facility at the AMP Technology Centre, started delivering the fixtures last month as part of a three-year contract.
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Large-capacity APC range keeps growing

In recent years, Midaco has expanded its line of automatic pallet changers to accommodate the need for high-volume large precision parts machined to tight tolerances for the aerospace, energy, automotive, medical, defence, power generation, and oil and gas industries.

These jobs cause significant spindle downtime due to the long and involved process of heavy/large part changeover. When combined with crane loading, first-article inspection and job interruption tasks, the machining centre can be idle up to 70% of the time. Idle time means slow production and lost profit for each machine owned.
Midaco says its pallet changers are a simple solution to eliminate unnecessary spindle downtime and rescue lost profit on large as well as small and mid-size machining centres.
The company manufactures pallet changers which adapt to virtually any brand and model of machining centre, including large bridge mills with travels
up to 4826 x 2235 mm, and with a weight capacity of up to 14,528 kg.
Automatic pallet systems are easily installed on the right side or the left side of a VMC, or both sides for machines which do not move in the Y axis. Once a pallet or load of parts is complete, the next pallet or job is transferred into the machine automatically from the side-mounted shuttle on to the receiver fitted to the VMC table. As all part loading and job set-up tasks are performed offline (without the operator having to lean into or climb on to the machine) both productivity and ergonomics are maximised.
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SMW showcases innovations at IMTS

SMW Autoblok took the opportunity to showcase a number of company innovations at the recent IMTS show in Chicago, USA, where demonstrations were provided in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

In terms of precision vices, the company addressed visitors looking to reduce the waste of raw materials and minimise deformation. On show were the Genius and Sintex precision vices for five-axis machine tools. Both feature SMW’s patented SinterGrip technology, which requires only 3.5 mm of clamping surface on which to grip. A series of solid-carbide serrated inserts grasp the workpiece securely, promoting higher cutting speeds and feed rates for increased metal removal.
Any visitors seeking maximum grip during heavy-duty machining applications were pointed towards the company’s APS (Automatic Positioning System). The APS zero-point clamping system is a universal connection between the machine tool, the clamping device and/or the workpiece. APS locks into position by lining up pins on the clamping device or workpiece, with holes on the chuck. When joined, the combination is automatically positioned to the zero point. The APS can be used for turning, milling, measuring or grinding.
From a chuck perspective, the BP series took centre stage. BP chucks combine the flexibility of a standard open-centre power chuck with the long life and precision of SMW’s Proofline sealed chucks, making it suitable for bar and bar-stock clamping, as well as shaft clamping. The constant grip force allows for repeatability and consistency, whereas non-sealed chucks can lose up to 50% of the grip force if not properly maintained, says the company.
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Roemheld and Rivi join forces

The Hilma division of German workholding specialist Roemheld has entered into a 50:50 joint venture with long-term co-operation partner Rivi Magnetics of Sassuolo, Italy, to develop new applications for magnetic clamping technology.

Based in Hilchenbach, Germany, Roemheld Rivi is in the hands of Hans-Joachim Molka from the Roemheld management team, who will be responsible for commercial matters, and Davide Rivi, owner of Rivi Magnetics Srl, who is responsible for research and development.
Says Molka: “We see a number of new opportunities in specific sectors in the coming years: drives for electromobility, 3D printing applications, locking mechanisms for rotors in wind turbines, and robotic assembly and handling. Magnetic clamping is aimed at customers working in the supply chains to these sectors.”
Rivi adds: “Magnetic clamping technology, with its many advantages in terms of set-up time optimisation, offers huge market potential that we want to exploit even more. In addition to intensifying sales activities, Roemheld Rivi GmbH intends to launch a development initiative that will significantly broaden the product portfolio.”
Hilma M-TECS standard and customised magnetic clamping products are manufactured by Rivi Magnetics; the various models being capable of withstanding maximum temperatures of 80°C, 120°C or 240°C. According to the company there has been a noticeable increase in demand for quick mould clamping at the upper end of this temperature range. Systems can be either factory fitted by the machine manufacturer, or retrofitted to existing machines within a few hours.
Designed according to customer requirements with respect to weight (up to several tonnes), complexity of geometry and required clamping force, the systems are widely used in the injection moulding and rubber industries, as well as in forming presses and stamping plants.
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Jaw changing is child’s play

Visitors to the Röhm stand at the recent AMB 2018 exhibition in Stuttgart experienced how the company can reduce set-up time to less than 60 seconds.

To demonstrate, there was a set-up time challenge in which visitors could prove themselves and win prizes by changing the jaws on Röhm’s new Duro-A RC. Here, nine year-old Alexandra showed how it was done.
“We are absolutely thrilled and satisfied by this year’s AMB,” says CEO Gerhard Glanz. “Not only the set-up time challenge, but the response to our new products. The Duro-A RC power chuck and Lubritool lubrication device proved a total success.
“We were quite astounded when a record was set for the set-up time challenge on the fourth day of the fair,” he adds. “The three jaws of the Duro-A RC power chuck were changed in an unbelievable 10.27 seconds. On the last day of the fair, we were also surprised by nine year-old Alexandra, who managed to change the jaws in 53.96 seconds, thereby showing
that it really is child’s play.”
The Duro-A RC power chuck prevails not only due to the fast jaw change, but due to its overall height, which has been reduced by 14% compared with the previous generation chuck, while weight has been reduced by 17%.
Elsewhere on the stand was the Lubritool lubrication device, which enables the automated lubrication of tool clamping systems within 5 seconds, instead of 5 minutes. Based on this time saving, Lubritool can pay for itself in less than six months.
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