LEAD FEATURE UK HYBRID ADDITIVE/SUBTRACTIVE INDUSTRIAL FIRSTS
to, however, with a further seven machines anticipated.
machining undertaken off the hybrid machine, with the
Below: Cable First
Andrew The company moulds parts for very many well know
complicated elements – “which we try to keep to a
Images:industrial names and boasts sales of in excess of £11m
minimum” – then produced on the Lumex Avance-25.
Allen Lodge at the
(parent OGM Holdings’ fi gure is £20m+), previously
For rapid tools for parts that have at-risk susceptible
controls in the
sourcing mould tools in support from external suppliers.
features (clips, latches and so on), the use of hybrid AMproduced
Says Gowers: “I joined in October 2017 to start a new
cavity tooling inserts allows these features to
department, but initially it was agreed I would undertake
be fi ne-tuned as production progresses, with inserts
six months of R&D to understand the technology and
swapped out quickly.
house the Sodick
where best to use it. I now think that will actually stretch
A further example of the technology’s use is with a tool
out for a couple of years – there is so much opportunity
repair involving a 600-micron thick blade insert for an
for innovation. We already have our eyes on areas that we
onsite tool. The blade was grown overnight, wired off the
cleverly using the
think will have patentable outcomes.”
base, ground and fi tted, with tool repair effected by 2 pm
3D-printed ‘ConformL Cool’ mould tool inserts, as the
the next day – an external quote to replace that insert had
company is calling them, plus the manufacture of
put a two-week lead time on its supply. OGM is also
3D-printed end use components and the fast production
experimenting with production of surface textures.
system to keep an
of mould tool inserts were the three elements of its
RPMT also supports supply only of the completed tool,
eye on the
original plan. But of the mould tool insert idea he reports
so fi rms can perform their own moulding, but this has not
machine when it
that it became clear that customers didn’t want inserts
yet happened, while the manufacture of mould tool
but “loved the concept of rapid tooling” complete tools.
inserts, which may/may not require conformal cooling,
unmanned – the
Fast time to market was found to be key. With mould
has a had a few takers.
tools from the UK on 12-14 weeks’ lead time, China
There’s a plan to develop new software that will allow
mounted on the
offering at least six-eight weeks, the requirement was for
the company to quote for tooling on a 48-hour turnaround,
a four-week lead time, which OGM can satisfy with a hard,
with 24 hours targeted, while a planned service for enduse
or even fully hardened, production mould tool.
part is in its infancy.
mounted on the
“Save your four weeks and £5,000-8,000 for soft
wall to view the
tooling, come to us and we can make a proper rapid
FIRST IN EUROPE
production mould tool that you can use for prototyping
Poole-based Cable First is the fi rst company in Europe to
that we can then have hardened, if you so wish, to take
install a Sodick OPM250L hybrid powder bed-type, lasermelt
you to many hundreds of thousands or millions of parts,”
machine (supplied by Sodi-Tech EDM, https://is.gd/
lotawi).Cable First’s end
This unit can produce parts up to 250 by 250 by
The company’s new in-house toolmaking activity is
250 mm and incorporates a 45,000 rpm spindle served
supported by what the company is calling its rapid
by a 16-tool magazine. Cable First’s main business is the
tools, which are
production mould tool (RPMT) service – a fi rst for the UK.
production of bespoke cable assemblies and harnesses
This is currently based around various sizes of custom offthe
for a wide range of sectors, working closely with its sister
shelf bolsters, part-machined, with insert manufacture
company, bespoke cable maker Concept Cables Ltd. Both
and fi nal machining undertaken
companies, employing 45 personnel
that work, where
thereafter. It has already bagged £1
each, are part of the Gemaco Group,
million sales for mould tools for use in
which has a turnover of some £8m.
house, using its RPMT process that
utilises the Lumex machine.
By way of demonstration, the additive
manufacturing applications engineering
manager says that the company has
already completed a quarter of a million
parts from such a hardened tool. The inserts were
‘grown’ in eight hours, overnight, the standard bolster
took three days, with integration of the pair adding a
further two days.
Not all inserts necessarily feature conformal cooling,
incidentally, and not all will be made totally via the hybrid
route – they could still be subcontracted, either overseas
or locally, although the fastest response will always likely
be the hybrid route. For simple inserts, even a one-week
lead time is possible. And inserts will often see CNC
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