Shearline offers F1 rapid prototyping service to mainstream industrial clients
07 December 2009
As the volume of new business increases at Shearline, the precision manufacturing company has introduced a team dedicated to rapid development of prototypes. It has also recently purchased two sophisticated 5-axis machines, which can allow the creation of fully functional metal prototypes ready for client testing.
Charles Maltby (pictured), Technical & Commercial Director, explains that facilitating the fast manufacture of small volume metal prototypes offers many benefits for clients.
“Formula One designers are used to having one-off metal prototypes made for them and we are looking to offer this service to more mainstream organisations.
“We have seen an upsurge in demand and about 40-50% of the projects on the shop floor are new work. To enable the fast turnaround of prototypes without disrupting the flow of work on larger volume projects, we have established a new Prototype and Rapid Manufacture Team. The team is self-contained with its own equipment, including later in the year a dedicated 5-axis milling machine, all of which will eventually enable 24/7 working as required to meet deadlines.
“The type of metal prototype components we are usually asked to make would typically fit in a shoe box and would often have traditionally be made first by some form of plastic rapid protptype system. However typically these parts need to work in close contact with other components, perhaps existing or developed by other suppliers. A metal prototype of the type Shearline will be producing allows the client to see how the new part will perform in the real world and many issues can be addressed at an early stage when they are still cost-effective to rectify.”
The 5-axis machines are the most advanced type of CNC milling-machine. In addition to the three normal axes (XYZ) it has a C axis, which enables a horizontally mounted work-piece to be rotated for asymmetric and eccentric turning, and a fifth or B axis to control the tilt of the tool itself. Together this allows extremely complicated geometries to be made quickly with great precision. The machines have 10 separate and automatically loaded pallets, each of which can be set to create a different product, a capability enhanced by the 240 tool interchange facility, allowing quick changeover of tools as required and the ability to run 24/7.
Shearline’s Hybrid Laser Technology division (visit http://www.hlt.co.uk/) is already used to providing fast turnaround for R&D departments, typically in the medical and electronics industries, and the new prototyping facility will complement its capability, providing bespoke solutions for clients.
Shearline is actively recruiting for its new team and requires engineers with an appetite for a challenge, used to working with advanced technology but with the skills required to ‘go manual’ when the situation arises.
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