Flattening adds value


A £750,000 sheet metal ‘flattening’ machine is providing added value to Wrightform’s subcontract metal forming business and helping customers automate their processes.

The ARKU Flatmaster 88-200 is solving a major issue for customers that require consistently flat parts or are making use of automation in secondary welding and assembly operations.

Weighing in at 47,000 kg, the machines has 16 alternating steel rollers that combine to deform sheet material up to 2 metres in width and from as little as 180 mm up to any length and sheet thickness between for materials as thin as 1.5 mm up to a max thickness of 28 mm.

Passing the sheet through the first set of rollers eliminates its elastic memory, the subsequent rollers then flatten the sheet and stress relieve it to ensure a perfectly flat component ready for secondary operations.

“Bowed components are a major problem for some customers, especially those that are investing in more and more automation for their welding, forming and assembly,” says Ken Rose, Director, Wrightform. “Traditionally there were two ways to overcome this bowing, use more expensive material with tighter tolerances or flatten parts manually with a press, which is both time consuming and highly skilled work. The ARKU Flatmaster 88-200 eliminates both of those to generate consistently flat and stressed relieved parts making downstream operations straightforward.”

As a specialist subcontract manufacturer of sheet metal components Wrightform has installed several automated processes, with all of these investments aimed at adding value for its customers through a combination of improved quality, lead times and product consistency.

“We recognised that automation was becoming an increasing element of our customers’ businesses and they were placing increasing demands on us as a supplier. The impact so far of the ARKU Flatmaster system is that it is performing as expected and impacting on how we can support our customers. We see it has having massive potential for business growth not only from existing customers, but also from those who we would not normally consider as typical Wrightform customers, such as other sheet metal manufacturers and OEMs using laser, presses and forming equipment who are facing the same flatness issues that we went through but cannot justify this level of investment.”