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Amtek looks to Ellesco for high-pressure deburring
Amtek looks to Ellesco for high-pressure deburring
Amtek looks to Ellesco for high-pressure deburring
Amtek looks to Ellesco for high-pressure deburring

Amtek looks to Ellesco for high-pressure deburring

Added to MTDCNC by MTDCNC on 14 October 2013

Having secured a new contract to supply machined castings for a six speed automatic gearbox to the Ford Transmission facility near Bordeaux, France, Amtek Aluminium Castings (Witham) found itself with a requirement for washing and deburring of these components. It turned to deburring and surface treatment specialist Ellesco, which came up with an innovative solution.

Amtek Aluminium Castings (Witham), part of the £2 billion Amtek Group whose customers are almost exclusively in the automotive sector, supplies machined castings to every Ford Plant in the world. However, this latest project arose when Ford America took the decision to re-open a transmission assembly facility near Bordeaux, France, for the manufacture of a new six-speed automatic gearbox. Ford North America turned to Amtek for a cost-effective solution for its casting and machining requirements for an additional 130,000 units supplied from Europe.

While the casting and machining could be handled with existing technology, the Ford specification determined that the components had to be delivered clean and burr-free condition as they would go straight to the assembly line. While Amtek Aluminium Castings (Witham) already had several component washing systems, it had nothing that could handle that volume of parts when it came to deburring them. 'We had a relatively short space of time, around eight months from winning the contract to being in production, so my initial response to this washing and deburring requirement was to contact our existing suppliers of washing systems. While both could supply machines and automation capable of meeting the volumes, lead times were currently far longer than eight months, and at our volumes not cost effective.' says Ken Worsfold, Project Manager at Amtek Aluminium Castings (Witham).

'We then started to talk to Ellesco, who proposed a Sugino Jet Clean Centre. I knew nothing of Sugino, but research and the information provided by Ellesco convinced me that it was a good technical viable solution to our requirement, cost effective, and importantly they could deliver the machine and all the fixturing we required within a six month lead time.'  The machine in question is a Sugino JCC-W6650TE  Jet Clean Centre, which uses water to a maximum pressure of 50Mpa (500 bar or 7252 psi) to deburr and wash components. Built in Japan by Sugino it is the first machine of its type to be delivered to the UK. Apart from the high pressure the Jet Clean Centre has several other key benefits that attracted Amtek to it, these include the use of a Fanuc 21i-MB control with robot interface, a trunnion-type A-axis, that allows components to be accessed on all faces in a single operation, a six position turret to which a variety of cleaning nozzles can be attached, as well as a turntable that allows one part to be loaded while another is being cleaned an deburred.

'The similarities between the configuration of the Sugino machine and a conventional vertical machining centre was a big attraction, as programing of the machine and its general look and operation made the familiarisation process very easy when the machine was installed. The configuration also provides an extremely flexible deburring solution for us, as we can quickly change from any one of the three part variations with virtually no downtime,' says Ken Worsfold.  'Another big plus was the fact that we had Ellesco that we could call on if needed, who did a terrific job with the delivery and installation, with the machine fully installed, training completed and into production within a week of delivery. Further reassurance was provided by the fact that Sugino has a European Support centre.

Sugino also assisted Amtek by designing and manufacturing single, letterbox-style, fixture that can be used for the full family of components included in this new contract and that allows access to all component faces. A key feature of the fixture is the air detection system that ensures that the component is correctly located and clamped, vital when such high pressures are involved. Once clamped the machine table is rotated and the component is taken into the working area where it is washed at high pressure to remove any swarf, then the turret indexes to present specific nozzles to deburr individual features on the component. Once complete it is rotated out of the working area where it is dried by a compressed air blast.  

The design of the Jet Clean Centre is ideally suited to larger volumes found in the automotive sector, and Ken Worsfield is confident that it could handle around a 25 per cent increase in demand if the need arose. 'We will certainly look at Ellesco and Sugino again for future projects as the performance, versatility and simplicity of the Jet Clean Centre has been excellent.'

Christchurch, Dorset-based Ellesco has represented Sugino for many years, but this is the first opportunity it has had to install a machine of this type and capability and the fact that it was bought by a prestigious tier-one automotive supplier is a major acknowledgement of the quality and capability of the Sugino Jet Clean Centre and also an endorsement of the service and support that Ellesco can provide to manufacturing businesses across the board. EllescoSlaes Manager, John-Paul Henson-Spiers explains: 'Amtek is a one of the UK’s and world’s leading Tier One automotive suppliers. They required a machine and process that was not only cost-effective and efficient, but one that would also deliver consistently burr free and clean components. Our ability to work alongside them to deliver the end result, including all of the support and training that an investment of this type demands will hopefully lead to a long and productive working partnership.'

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