Holding down machining times

09 Oct 2018

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

Partnership with a work-holding specialist, Thame Workholding, has allowed Dowse Engineering to reduce machining times for its customers.

Located close to the UK’s motorsport valley in Bletchley, near Milton Keynes, Dowse Engineering offers a comprehensive range of engineering services, including the manufacture of precision components and the machining of micro mass-produced components across a range of materials and finishes.  

In addition to the motorsport sector, the company undertakes work for a wide variety of clients, across the aerospace, defence, telecommunications, electronics, automotive and medical Industries, sectors that demand the supply of high-quality components that are manufactured to the most challenging of specifications, often to tight deadlines.

To help ensure the efficient and cost-effective delivery of premium quality components, over the past 25 years, Dowse Engineering has continually invested in the latest computer technology and precision machinery resulting in the company’s impressive 11,500 sq ft manufacturing facility now being stocked with a wide range of advanced machine tools. To enable the full productive potential of the company’s manufacturing plant to be realised and to ensure the consistent production of premium quality components, Dowse Engineering use a range of workholding equipment from Thame Workholding.

Company Director, Trevor Dowse explained. “Dowse Engineering holds the highest level precision engineering accreditation from the NQA awarding body. As such we are fully compliant with Aerospace and Defence quality standards and we deliver all of our components to the equivalent standard.

“Our highly skilled engineering staff cover a wide spectrum of engineering disciplines and we continually invest in the advanced 5-Axis and CNC engineering machinery. Given our diverse assortment of high performance machine tools, we are able to produce complex precision manufactured components, from single prototypes up to large batch runs. In addition, we are capable of manufacturing parts that feature the most demanding of dimensional tolerances. As our customers often challenge us with extremely tight deadlines, we are always looking to find ways of improving our flexibility and increasing the efficiency of our manufacturing systems.

“Just as we work in partnership with our machine tool suppliers, we also work closely with the staff of Thame Workholding. The depth and diversity of Thame Workholding’s range means that whenever we have explained our needs to the company’s technical staff, an efficient, cost-effective solution has been supplied to us. Given the demanding nature of our customers and the complexity and challenging dimensional specifications of many of the parts we machine, the use of Thame Workholding products has helped enable us to achieve the required precise results. Also, the use of Thame’s products has allowed us to significantly reduce our machining times. An example of the many advantages we have gained through the use of Thame Workholding’s products is our recently purchased InoGrip system.

“Now, dependant on the application, before loading a billet onto an InoGrip vice for a milling operation, we stamp the workpiece in our InoGrip stamping station. The applied four precise depressions allow the specially shaped ends of the InoGrip vice’s three jaws to lock into the last 6 mm of the workpiece. This positive fit makes it possible to securely clamp the workpiece with just a fraction of the previously necessary clamping force. In addition, this arrangement provides an absolutely precise reference point for re-inserting workpieces in the vice with a high degree of repeat accuracy.

“The much reduced machining times, improved precision and substantial cost savings on materials we have achieved through the use of the ingenious InoGrip system means that we anticipate a rapid return on our investment.”

The patented InoGrip Stamping system supplied by Thame Workholding results in the need for a much reduced workholding clamping force to be applied to workpieces, whilst at the same time delivering maxim holding forces across both turning and milling applications. In addition, only 6mm clamping depth is required, compared to the 20-25mm of clamping depth usually needed when using conventional gripper jaws.

The advanced InoGrip system uses a high-pressure hydraulic press to simultaneously apply four precise cruciform indentations to the last 6 mm of the billet to be machined. The system allows all materials with a value of up to 1,400N/mm² to be stamped. Following the rapid stamping operation, when transferred to the InoGrip chuck, the male cruciform features, located on the end of each of the chuck’s jaws, accurately engage with the workpieces’ indentations. The ingenious system produces a positive, secure fit with an impressive holding force that is up to 10 times higher than that produced by conventional gripper jaws.

InoGrip chucks can be used on all standard power chucks and deliver a wide range of advantages. When employed in turning operations, users are able to achieve the best possible roundness results on deformable workpieces. Also, when employed on milling applications, the system provides the ability to machine prismatic parts with the application of maximum cutting values. If the billet to be machined is solid, the higher clamping pressure that can be applied by the use of the InoGrip stamping technique means that the workpiece can be securely held whilst both roughing and finishing operations are performed. Also, if secondary machining operations are to be performed, the pre-stamped InoGrip indentations ensure excellent repeatability of location from one machine tool to another. Last but not least, the ingenious InoGrip system’s ability to clamp on just 6 mm ensures that considerable material savings are made.

Based in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, Thame Workholding designs, manufactures and supplies a wide range of cost-effective standard and bespoke workholding products to its global customer base. Complementing its own products, the company also provide a range of highly efficient workholding solutions from leading global manufacturers, such as Lang Technik, Horst Witte, Samchully and HWR Spanntechnik, on an exclusive UK agency basis.

To ensure the in-house production of cost-effective, high-quality Thame Workholding products, the company uses a range of modern 3, 4 and 5 axis machine tools with multi-pallet and automated loading for unmanned machining. Thame Workholding’s impressive manufacturing facilities are supported by a high-accuracy CMM inspection provision and 3D CAD and CAM modelling facilities.

With a high proportion of products being designed and manufactured in-house, Thame Workholding has developed into a leading international provider of practical workholding solutions that are suitable for all categories of machining, in both standard and special applications.  The company is accredited to Quality Standard ISO 9001:2015 with the scope of design, manufacture, assembly, supply and maintenance of workholding equipment.