Composite experts from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing have helped a specialist local manufacturer to make a major investment in new technology.
Absolute Engineering, based at Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, is a world leading supplier of doctor blade systems, which control the consumption of ink and water used in printing and coating processes.
The company pioneered the use of woven carbon fibre chambered systems which are lighter, more corrosion resistant, easier to maintain and offer higher performance than conventional metal systems.
Absolute’s alternative proved so successful that it found it couldn’t cope with the demand and was having to outsource some of its work, so the company sought advice from Business Growth Service consultant, Abigail Levin, from business support specialists Chrysalis Transform.
One solution was to invest in a five axis, CNC milling machine to automate production of multiple orders, with one offs and specials made by existing manual methods. However, making such a significant investment was a big decision for a small firm.
Fortunately, the AMRC Composite Centre was already working with a five axis machine, and Composite Centre manager Richard Scaife and project engineer John Halfpenny were more than happy to put the machine through its paces to reassure Absolute about its performance.
John generated a number of CNC programs that simulated the more complex tasks Absolute would need a new machine to carry out and a demonstration at the AMRC’s facilities helped to convince Absolute’s new American owners, global print services technology group Pamarco, to make the investment.
Abigail Levin, from Chrysalis, explained: “When you are turning over £2 million, spending £350,000 on a machine is an enormous amount of money and the fact that our client was able to see and test a similar machine was fortuitous. Trialing the equipment at the AMRC was a big bonus and gave Absolute and its parent company confidence that the technology would work.”
Richard Scaife from the AMRC commented: “We were delighted to be able to play a part in helping Absolute Engineering make the right investment in new manufacturing technology. The AMRC is available to assist businesses to develop methods and techniques to advance their manufacturing technology to enable them to grow and compete more effectively”
Financial assistance for the purchase of the new technology was provided by the Leeds City Region Business Growth Programme and MAS Yorkshire, now known as Business Growth, whilst Abigail Levin, provided Project Management expertise and, with John Brannock from Absolute, organised the design and build programme.
Absolute’s managing director, Antony Whiteside, concluded: “This machine allows us to manufacture a higher quantity of chambers to an even higher standard than previously and is a reflection of Absolute’s commitment to providing the very best product to our customers. Investment in people and equipment is key to our expansion.”