We’re Heading to TCT Show 2019

September 19, 2019

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We’re Heading to TCT Show 2019

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be traveling to Birmingham, UK to attend the annual TCT Show.

This event is particularly notable and relevant to our industry as it’s one of the very first tradeshows to directly address 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping. It’s been in existence for some twenty years, for a long time it was only one of the few events that you could attend and see 3D printing equipment in action.

With over 10,000 visitors yearly and well over 300 exhibitors, it is the one we are most excited about this year. The show features a number of hands-on activities, presentations and speeches. Most importantly TCT learning zones which allow industry leaders and practitioners to dive deeper into all aspects of digital manufacturing services that are available now and in the future.

It is important for us to meet face to face with companies who are interested in digital manufacturing services but maybe are not yet convinced. It is quite another level to understand on a practical level how digital manufacturing services are applied to a given business.

If you are thinking of attending the TCT Show UK 2019, and would like to learn more about how Geomiq’s digital manufacturing services can benefit your business, come by our booth B62 and one of our design engineers will give you a walkthrough our platform and the services we offer.

We are looking forward to this event, and if you happen to attend as well, we’ll be very pleased to meet up with you and discuss your project. Drop us a line at [email protected] and we can make arrangements. See you there!

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geomiq. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any Geomiq Employee.

Aluminium Anodising Process and Benefits

Aluminium Anodising Process and Benefits

The core benefit of anodising aluminium alloys is that it improves its durability and wear resistance. Though it won’t provide everlasting protection against weathering, you will not have to incur the exaggerated maintenance cost. However,
September 19, 2019

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Everything You need to Know about Anodising

Anodising is a process that is used to convert a metallic surface into corrosion-resistant, durable, decorative, and anodic oxide finish. Aluminium alloy is the most suitable material for anodising. However, other metals such as titanium alloys and magnesium can be anodised.

The anodic oxide that is used in the process is retrieved from the aluminium substrate and only contains aluminium oxide. However, this oxide cannot be applied on surfaces like plating or painting; but is resistant to chipping since an aluminium substrate underlines it. Another feature of the substance is porosity. This particular feature allows it to be used for secondary processes such as sealing and colouring.

Why is Anodising Important?

Due to the facts mentioned above, it is accurate to mention that anodising process that can be employed to protect the surface of the metal from possible damages caused by abrasion. By anodising aluminium alloys, a protective coating of aluminium oxide is added, and it is resistant to rusts and other causes of wear and tear. Aluminium oxide is a durable, corrosion-resistant material. The electrochemical process also lets you colour the surface with dyes without the possibility of peeling and flaking.

Now let us go into the nitty-gritty of the benefits of anodising.

The core benefit of anodising aluminium alloys is that it improves its durability and wear resistance. Though it won’t provide everlasting protection against weathering, you will not have to incur the exaggerated maintenance cost. However, you will notice that anodised surfaces tend to pick up dirt and stains quite easily, but they are easy to clean using a piece of cloth or wool. Better still, you can do it using a mild detergent, and the surface will look as good as new.

Anodised surfaces can last up to 20 years before showing any sign of wear and tear. This is far much better than organic paints that peel off as soon as they get into contact with sharp and scratchy substances. Since anodised surfaces are far much harder than powder-coated surfaces, they are the best for areas with high traffic or even heavy equipment use where contacts are likely to happen. The surface will not easily take damages from contact, even when it is exposed to harsh chemicals.

Thankfully, the surface cannot be affected by the UV light, which is a common destroyer of many surfaces.

Key Advantages of Anodising Aluminium Alloys

– Corrosion resistance 

– Natural metallic anodised finish

– No risk of adhesion failure of the anodic film  

– No risk of surface finish fading

– No risk of chalking 

– No risk of filiform corrosion 

– Preservation of the original surface finish texture and design

– Optimal surface coverage  

– Anodic film is totally impermeable

– Exceptional abrasion resistance 

– Anodised Aluminium components are  100% recyclable

Are there Good and Bad Applications?

Yes, just like with any other product and application, there are wrong ways to anodise aluminium, and you should learn to avoid them at all cost. The main factors that must be considered in the process are the micron thickness and quality of the anodic element. Also, it is important to know that thinner coatings tend to provide minimum protection against destructive elements.

That said, the bottom line is that the higher the quality and the thicker the anodic material is, the better the protection it can provide against various damages. Aluminium products tend to be more susceptible to wear and tear, and the best way to ensure maximum protection is through the provision of high quality, thick anodic process.

What are the Downsides of Anodising?

While there are tremendous benefits linked with anodising, it still does not offer enough resistance to chemical damages. When exposed to corrosive substances for a long time, the surface of anodised material starts to break down. And when this starts to happen, you can lose the entire product.

This problem is mainly encountered in urban areas where there is a lot of chemical emission going on from active industrial activities. Most building materials in the urban centres tend to break down after long exposure of acidic chemicals.

Can Stainless Steel be Anodised?

Yes, though it does not have the kind of use that aluminium has, we can anodise stainless steel into different colours such as brown, black, white. However, compared to other substances such as titanium, stainless steel colours are not quite durable enough. This means that even when you manage to anodise stainless steel, you might not protect the surface long enough since it will peel and wear off faster compared to aluminium and titanium. If you want to make it more durable, there are special protective coatings that you might have to add to the mix. But that is a lengthy process which is unnecessary altogether.

 

If you are not sure whether you need soft anodising or hard anodising your aluminium, then you might want to contact an expert. It is essential that you protect the surface of your materials using the processes that guarantee longer effectiveness.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geomiq. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any Geomiq Employee.

Industry Insight Hardware Roundup – September

Industry

CNC Machining Is changing the manufacturing industry…since 700 B.C. CNC technology is not as recent as you might think, the oldest machined part (a bowl) was discovered in Italy around 700 B.C made using a lathe like machine. By the 18th century attempts were made to automate various machining process. Today CNC Machining is ever-more enhancing manufacturing of tomorrow, it’s convenient, its versatility, high precision and wide selection of materials makes it appealing to rapid prototyping.

Moore’s Law of 3D Printing? – New Holographic 3D Printing can create object I seconds by printing a 3D shape all at the same time. How? Simply put 3 Laser beams overlap to define an objects geometry from 3 different directions, creating a 3D image suspended in a vat of photosensitive resin. The laser light stays on for just long enough to cure the shape excess resin is drain and what remains is a fully formed 3D shape. LLNL engineer Chris Spadaccini says this is the next generation of 3D Printing.

How Manufacturing Plants Can Prepare for Industry 4.0 – disconnectedness i.e. more efficient digital technologies. Think, the modern state of digitisation including more advanced computing solutions, cloud and remote computing, IoT and connected devices, and the adoption of AI and machine learning. Step by step process follows by first Focusing on Improving Processes which will help shape collaboration within your organisation, even with the necessary hardware and systems. That means investing in training and education, process automation, related hardware and maybe new tools or software. 

Tech Future

BIOLIFE4D, a Chicago startup has demonstrated the versatile applicability of 3D printing. Transforming every industry from space to manufacturing 3D Printing is now transforming Healthcare. Led by Chief Science Officer Dr. Ravi Birla, BIOLIFE4D achieved its successfully replicated a human heart at JLABS research facility in Houston. To print the heart BIOLIFE4D researchers create a bioink using specific composition of different extracellular matrix compounds that replicates the properties of a heart.

NASA Image: ISS056E073247 – ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) experiment aboard the International Space Station. MICS is researching how cement reacts in space during the hardening process and may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties. Observations could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safer, lightweight space habitats.)

Are we Edging closer to building man-made structures in space? The moon? Mars? Recent investigation on the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts performed cement solidification in microgravity to see how it turned out. Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS). Full results of the investigation can be found here.

Aerojet Rocketdyne Takes 3D Printing for Rocket Engines to the Next Level – a California-based rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer, has announced successful hot-fire testing of its 3D-printed thrust chamber for the RL10 engine. It is the largest copper-alloy thrust chamber ever built with 3-D printing and successfully tested. The RL10 rocket engine has played a pivotal role in placing satellites of all types into the Earth’s orbit. Benefits of this technology include, Cost Savings due to it being faster and less labour-intensive & Higher Flexibility as it has fewer constraints on the size and shape of materials. The new chamber design reduces the time to manufacture from several months to just under one month, and the number of parts by 90 percent to just two. With 3D printing, also comes the ability to design and build advanced features that allow for improved heat transfer.

Events & Community

Events

​Come speak to our team at TCT2019, Booth # , 24-26 September 2019. The event for Design-to-Manufacture innovation, at the NEC Exhibition Centre Hall 3 &3A, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Sam Al-Mukhtar Speaking at Advanced Engineering 2019, 31st October 2019, 14:00pm. At the Manufacturing of the Future Session – Speaking about “Removing the pain of Cost Estimating and Quoting Jobs – for both Engineers and Manufacturers”.

Geomiq is organising London Industrial Designers/Engineers Meetup event in London. Location & Date TBD. Sign up to the Meetup group to get exclusive updates. 

Geomiq will be speaking at WebSummit 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. 

This Month

Apple Unveils the next Generation of iPhones

The iPhone 11 boosts chip performance by 20% with the new A13 processor. The new chip is built with a more power-efficient transistor technology, saving battery life. Among other hardware improvements the new iPhone features improved camera sensors. The new iPhones come in a Pro version and a standard version. Available from 20th  September.

Geomiq is proud to bring you this new series of Industry Insight. We would like to share with you the technologies, products and companies that inspire us! Working closely with some of the most innovative companies around the world is what get us out of bed everyday!

This is our first issue and we would like to hear your opinions. If you have an interesting story or exciting product you would like to share with us, get in touch at [email protected]

The Benefits Of Online Manufacturing Services

The Benefits Of Online Manufacturing Services

Manufacturing is currently being shaken by the rapid, unstoppable onslaught of the fourth industrial revolution. The integrated, digital fabrication processes outlined by the Industry 4.0 initiative are universally connecting through the IoT (Internet of Things) improving industrial procedures beyond recognition.

Manufacturing is currently being shaken by the rapid, unstoppable onslaught of the fourth industrial revolution. The integrated, digital fabrication processes outlined by the Industry 4.0 initiative are universally connecting through the IoT (Internet of Things) improving industrial procedures beyond recognition.

Outstanding Efficiency

The digitalisation brought about by Industry 4.0 and IoT technology is enabling factories to experience unparalleled efficiency by using intelligent automation procedures. An original concept can be rapidly developed, tested, manufactured and delivered in an incredibly short timeframe. Data collection from printed sensors built into machinery is being used to gather information on all aspects of industrial techniques enabling further enhancement of improved productivity. Streamlined initiatives regarding automated replenishment of raw materials and stock combined with detailed analytics are allowing industrial processes to become highly efficient. Being able to instantly discover where improvements can be made enables managers to organise the time and energy of employees to the best advantage resulting in cost-effective efficiency.

Integrated Technological Tracking

Products manufactured digitally benefit from the intelligent tracking offered by smart labels and printed sensors. These can be customised to a client’s individual requirements and installed during various production techniques. Initially used for data collection during manufacture these incredibly thin sensors transmit information using NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Data is transmitted through Bluetooth wireless technology to desktops, mobiles and wristwatch devices. Intelligent tracking enables products to be reliably and accurately monitored while in storage or transportation. It also eliminates the likelihood of counterfeit goods being circulated. The introduction of sensor-driven smart packaging has benefits such as achieving ambient temperature control and complete traceability during delivery.

Geomiq Industry 4.0 Digital manufacturing Advantages of Iot

Increased Innovation and Investment

Factories that have already taken steps to become fully digitalised are realising the flexibility and efficiency to be gained. One of the greatest benefits is in the early stages of designing a new product. Sophisticated three-dimensional imaging allows designs to be created using virtual reality technology. A product can be planned and developed simultaneously. Flaws in a virtual prototype can be detected before the decision is taken to manufacture. Three-dimensional modelling has had an enormous impact on investment. Entrepreneurs can confidently develop an innovative new product without the costs and delays that have always been inherent in linear production techniques. Through remote Bluetooth connectivity data can be transmitted directly to a CNC machine without the need for separate programming. It enables innovative designs with increased geometric complexity to be manufactured in a variety of metals or plastic. The use of a Bluetooth CNC machine results in components with critical surface finishing and an unsurpassed accuracy.

Cost-Effective On-Demand Production

Switching to a digital production system has positive economic benefits. Goods no longer need to be produced in high quantities followed by the expense of storing them in warehouses. Digital designs interconnecting with advanced tooling options are ideal for the manufacture of on-demand (MOD) products. Small batches of components can be cost-effectively manufactured whenever they are required. Digitalised injection moulding techniques can be used for a range of components in various industries including aerospace, construction and automotive. These goods are typically required in high volume rates with strict deadlines. Injection moulding is an ideal procedure for large orders but by using the flexibility of on-demand digitalised procedures, components can be economically produced with increased speed and efficiency.

Sheet Metal and 3D Printing

Components manufactured from sheet metal can be rapidly produced by using digitalised techniques. Blanks from two-dimensional designs are first formed by computerised laser-cutting techniques using either chemical etching or water jet sprays. Three-dimensional components are created once the blanks are pressed into shape. Digitalisation enables the whole process to be conducted at speed from beginning to end, increasing productivity while reducing costs. Direct 3D printing is suitable for a range of metals including stainless steel in a process that has a fast turnover with a reduced cost. Other techniques such as stereolithography (SLA) enables the rapid processing of master patterns, prototypes and fabrications with a snap-fit assembly. Selective laser sintering (SLS) is ideal for the rapid development and testing of prototypes and the manufacture of components with a low volume. Throughout the process of using digitalisation to manufacture goods, productivity is fast, efficient and cost-effective.

Shared Information and Technology

A major benefit of digitalised online services in the manufacture of a wide range of components is the opportunity for sharing knowledge. Flaws within a design can be accessed remotely by experienced staff in another department or company in a different location. Such instant problem solving saves time and money enabling a project to progress with streamlined efficiency. Machinery and equipment designed specifically for digitalisation and Bluetooth connectivity are uniformly manufactured. Centralisation of stored analytical data, the interchangeable nature of spare parts and flexible running procedures significantly reduces costs. The repair or upgrading of a system is quick and simple. When employees relocate, they can immediately begin using machinery they are already familiar with resulting in streamlined productivity.

Progressive Development

As networks of digitalised machines and equipment interact with each other the opportunity for progress and development is vast. Streamlined production techniques benefit from collaboration at every stage. A digital system is extremely responsive to its surroundings due to the gathering of highly detailed analytics. Such data is continuously processed warning of potential difficulties and even providing solutions before they are encountered. With a network of shared knowledge throughout the industry there is instant access to records concerning fabrication techniques. the result is an improved performance in every area of production. Digitalisation increases compatibility, quality control and compliance with regulations. The streamlining of production techniques throughout all areas of industry create a reassuring environment for customers and factory managers.

Futuristic Technology

The futuristic development of Industry 4.0 and the IoT is a green technology relying on digitally transmitted instructions and improved production techniques. The speed at which innovative designs can be perfected by using three-dimensional imaging to highlight flaws is revolutionising the manufacture of components. Prototypes can be developed at cost-effective prices within a much shorter time-frame than using the techniques of a previous generation of machinery. Investment in designing innovative new products is being encouraged by a combination of reduced costs and the certainty of increased productivity. Digital manufacturing promises streamlined efficiency across a wide range of equipment including futuristic CNC machines and techniques such as 3D printing. The reliability of intelligent tracking through smart labels adds to the efficiency of digitalisation. The reduced costs involved in developing products through advanced digital manufacturing are proving to have many benefits. The cost of initial investment is balanced against futuristic techniques in creating flawless designs and products that are of superb quality. The sudden impact of the fourth industrial revolution is already transforming the factories that have been eager to implement its exciting capabilities. Businesses that have adapted to the new technology are discovering the limitless opportunities and benefits of online fabrication and machining services through increased efficiency and reduced costs.

Navigating Trade Tariffs During Brexit

Navigating Trade Tariffs During Brexit

The rising costs associated with Brexit are edging ever closer to industries and consumers alike.

With Brexit looming large, companies are beginning to assess what a drop from the EU means for them. Large companies will not be the only ones impacted by rising costs and impending tariffs as the consumer base will face higher prices. Current deals within the EU keeps international trade at a reasonable tariff rate, however, if the UK leaves, these restrictions fall away, and different organizations begin to apply their tariff rates.

Politics of the matter aside, Brexit will take a heavy toll on many industries including metalworking. Manufacturing costs will rise due to the tariffs affecting imported materials, cost of labor will go up, and the price of the finished product will be higher. The thought of rising costs due to extended tariffs can be frightening, but this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In this article, we will inform you on what you might expect from Brexit regarding this industry, how to navigate these coming tariffs, and what this means for you.

Different restrictions and applied tariffs will result in different outcomes. Manufacturing costs may rise in one area but decrease in another. Trade deals could affect one field but leave another untouched. Attempting to predict what Brexit will cause is nearly impossible as so many outcomes could occur. Understanding what is happening and what this could lead to in the manufacturing industry is an important first step to navigating the new economy. Understand trade tariffs and how they affect your money will help you avoid major pitfalls and financial distress.

WTO Rules Apply

Firstly, what is the WTO? The WTO is the World Trade Organization, a place where 164 countries negotiate trade deals and establish rules and regulations with each other. The EU has established their own set of trade deals within its barriers, but once the UK leaves the EU, WTO rules automatically apply. You can think of the WTO as the bare minimum allowed when it comes to trade deals. If a country doesn’t have an established trade deal with another country, the WTO rules automatically apply to taxation on imports and exports.

In the deal terms hosted by the EU, most imports have a rather low taxation rate. Some industries as low as 2.8% tax on products. Other industries experience a slightly higher tariff on their imports and exports. Once the UK leaves the Union, they will be subject to the WTO rules even when trading within Europe. This could see tariffs as high as 10% on an imported car, or 35% on imported dairy products. Most industries will face these hikes in taxation under WTO rules and will face them almost immediately once Brexit occurs.

The UK government has made strides to protect companies and citizens against this steep shift in trade tariffs. What this means is some industries will have their tax rates cut to 0% in a temporary schedule. Batteries, in the EU, faced a 4.7% tariff rate, but will have 0% tariffs imparted on them for the time being. Once the UK can stabilize itself, it’s presumed that the tariffs will be brought back on items, but not before industries are given time to prepare and the economy steadies itself.

This can all sound rather scary, and the thought of these impending trade tariffs might send a sense of panic. Brexit does not indicate that industries will experience crippling tariff hikes that will destabilize our economy. Some industries might experience a tariff decrease with the WTO rules applied. Once Brexit occurs, trade deals with countries can be enacted that will allow the UK to establish their own tariffs with other countries.

Trade Deals

The WTO is a safety net for tariffs and treaties between the 164 member countries. The EU had established their own set of tariffs that each member had to comply with and thus were not subject to the WTO. Once the UK leaves the EU, trade deals that better suit our needs can begin taking shape. This means that any countries that we establish a trade deal with, our imports and exports with them will no longer be subject to the WTO.

Trade deal with countries will allow the UK to establish new tariff rates and possibly grow our economy if handled correctly. After Brexit, the UK cannot alter tariffs with specific countries unless through a trade deal. If the UK wants to lower tariffs on cars from Australia, they can only do so through a trade deal with them.

Establishing trade deals that suit the UK and the country being traded with could help establish the UK as its own economic entity. This could also be a benefit to you as industries that might have high tariff rates under the WTO, could see lower tariffs with specific trade deals.

What Brexit Means for Us and You

Depending on the established tariffs, we could see an increase in manufacturing costs. Necessary imports from external countries could see a tariff rate hike through the WTO. The ability to navigate trade tariffs to find the cheapest cost for the cumstomer. Importing could depend on trade deals established with individual countries. Brexit could be straining but keeping the quality of products high and the cost low is still a priority.

Tariffs established on exports can also lead to a price hike. Customers who bought from us from European countries might see higher pricing on products due to the raised tariffs. Brexit will not only affect citizens in the UK. Customers from external countries may have to deal with raised export tariffs. As mentioned before, it’s impossible to say what effect Brexit will have on every industry.

Facing raised tariff rates is imposing. Paying more for a product solely because the UK established new trade deals can be disheartening. But by understanding what these new tariffs mean and what trade deals affect them, can help ease your mind. Brexit could lead to raised manufacturing costs for companies and in turn, higher prices on products. For customers outside of the UK, imposed export tariffs could be the reason for raised prices.

At Geomiq, our philosophy will remain the same. We will continue to offer online manufacturing services and will continue to stand above the rest in our industry.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geomiq. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any Geomiq Employee.

Special Steels – Hardox®, Strenx®, Domex® and Laser®

Special Steels – Hardox®, Strenx®, Domex® and Laser®

Of all the materials available on Earth, none is more widely used or more recycled than steel. Whether it is stainless steel, flat carbon products, high-temperature steel, etc., a wide range of applications use the material. This is because the various alloys and forms all offer different properties that are usable in a wide range of scenarios.

Additionally, steel is known for being very strong and for having a relatively low cost associated with manufacturing it. Today, there are five sectors of steel application, which are:

  1. Transport
  2. Construction
  3. Energy
  4. Packaging
  5. Industry and Appliances

Types of steel such as stainless steel are well known; however, this article focuses on a few of the uncommon and specialized steel types. These are Hardox, Strenx, Domex, and Laser. Below is an overview of their composition and merits.

Hardox

Hardox is known for being an incredibly wear-resistant variation of steel. It is manufactured by Svenskt Stål Aktiebolag (SSAB), which is a Swedish steel corporation. The manufacturer is credited with the development of the first modern piece of wear-resistant steel, which took place in 1974.

Hardox has been given the name “wear plate,” as even when placed under heavy and large mechanical loads, the wear rate does not differ. It is highly sought after by companies that are into the quarrying of sand and gravel. This is because dump truck bodies and excavator buckets made from the material tend to last longer than those that are not.

Characteristics of Hardox include its high hardness, incredible strength, and uniformed evenness. Constructions based on the material have a highly reduced weight as its strength allows for the use of thinner metal sheets, without compromising overall integrity. Furthermore, even when placed under low temperatures, it maintains its impact resistance.

The possibility for repair is usually of great concern but this is not the case with Hardox as the sheets and plates have very good machining and welding properties. Note that it is a tempered and quenched variation of steel, which is why it has such outstanding properties. However, they can be lost if the material is worked on incorrectly. Therefore, whenever Hardox is being bent, welded, cut, or ground, there must be proper protective measures put in place, and proper precautions must be taken.

You may obtain this steel type in various grades such as 400, 450, 500, 550, etc., which all have various sheet thickness and Brinell hardness metrics.

Domex

This is the brand name of a form of hot-rolled steel produced by SSAB. It is a high-strength grade of steel, which is a low alloy, and is cold formed. Its intended uses is in the engineering and automotive industries. This means it is great for applications such as those in CNC machining. This steel type boasts low levels of both carbon and manganese, and it has precisely added grain refiners such as vanadium, titanium, and niobium. The result of this and the clean structure throughout is one of the most competitive alternatives available for both cold formed and welded products.

There is a wide range of Domex steel types available. Variations include the regular cold-forming types, to wear resistant types, to corrosion resistant types. There are even ballistic protection and electrical sheet variations available.

Not only is it high-strength, but it also has an excellent formability property, in addition to good weldability. This means that it can undergo and withstand numerous manufacturing processes including pressing, fabrication, and machining.

Domex is superior to mild steel as it offers better strength and higher quality. Therefore, projects tend to require less steel and have a lower structural weight, which can result in lower costs associated with manufacturing. If done right, cost reductions can run as high as 30%. Therefore, it is a perfect material for the automotive industry. By reducing the cost of production, the cost of the finished product (the cars in this case) can be lower for buyers. Also, car manufacturers aim for having a low structural weight, while maintaining high handling. This material is perfect for balancing such objectives.

This type of steel is available in numerous grades such as 240YP, 355MC, 600MC, etc.

Strenx

Strenx is one of the many Domex variations. In 2015, Domex 700MC was rebranded as Strenx. Like all other variations, it is thermo-mechanically rolled in modernized plants under carefully controlled heating, rolling, and cooling process.

Where it stands out is with designation D and E. This means it not only meets the demands for steel S700MC in EN-10149-2, but it also exceeds them. Due to this, it has superb strength and is the go-to material in applications such as cranes, earthmoving machines, and truck chassis. The high strength results in saving of weight and/or increasing of the payload.

Strenx is available in numerous variations such as 100, 100XF, 110XF, etc. These variations all have different dimensions, they meet different standards, and they have different optimal applications.

Laser

Laser grade steel is a high strength, cold forming steel type with an advanced structure that has been optimized for laser cutting. The design aims to achieve both speed and precision. This steel type is also manufactured by SSAB. This high-performance steel variation is efficient because of several factors, which include:

  • Consistent and optimized chemistry
  • Superior cleanliness
  • Consistent and narrow dimensional tolerances
  • Impact toughness enhancement at low temperatures
  • Tight nesting with shared cutting lines

There is total process control throughout production, which results in a dead flat material. Therefore, it meets the most challenging of needs when fast and error-free cutting is required, which results in reduced production times and less of a need to rework for better precision.

Assuming the right parameters are set, SSAB Laser ® helps you to maintain immaculate cut edge quality, even when plate thickness approaches 30 mm.

Final Remarks

SSAB makes a variety of specialized steel products including Hardox, Domex, Strenx, and Laser. They are well designed with various applications in mind. The manufacturer offers detailed overviews of all products plus online quoting to make your decision making and purchasing processes easier.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geomiq. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any Geomiq Employee.

Does the UK Have a Trade Deal with China?

Does the UK Have a Trade Deal with China?

Trading is an essential part of any county’s economy. The United Kingdom has enjoyed the benefits of trade that are synonymous with being a part of the European Union for years. However, the membership also prevented the country from engaging in similar deals with other territories external to the union.

With the UK’s decision to leave (termed Brexit), the possibilities for the establishment of such deals are somewhat endless. China, for example is well on its way to taking the United States’ top spot as a global superpower. Establishing trade deals with such a country is both strategic and beneficial.

Current UK-China Trade Status

To understand the current status, you need to first look at the current relationship between the European Union and China. The EU is currently China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second largest trading partner behind the United States. Based on this, the union is committed and open to establishing a trade agreement with China. The issue is that the EU is not comfortable that China is trading fairly, respecting intellectual property, or meeting the required obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

China joined the WTO in 2001 with an economy that needed some restructuring. Therefore, it agreed to liberalize and to reform parts of its economy. The Chinese have made significant progress on this agreement, however, there are a few glaring problems that remain, which have placed a block on the EU’s confidence to move forward. These problems include:

  • Lack of transparency.
  • Poor policies for the enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights.
  • Non-tariff measures and industrial policies that show discrimination against foreign companies.
  • High government intervention In the Chinese economy, which results in a position of dominance for state-owned firms, plus inequalities in access to cheap financing and subsidies.

Back in 2016, the EU adopted a new strategy where China is concerned, which mapped out the relationship between the two over a five-year period. The point of the strategy is to promote a level playing field, reciprocity, and fair competition in all areas of cooperation. The strategy also contains a trade agenda, which has a strong focus on the improvement of market access opportunities.

The result of all this is that while progress is being made, there is still no formal trade agreement between the EU and the Chinese.

As the Brexit deadline has been extended to October 31, 2019, the UK still operates under the umbrella of the EU. Since the EU currently does not have a free trade agreement with China. By the transitive property, this means that the UK does not have a trade deal with the Asian territory either. The possibility of such a trade deal emerges once Brexit has officially taken place.

Potential for the Future

In fact, China has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to establish such an agreement with the UK. The possibility has even been further incentivized as the Chinese promised a “top notch” deal if the agreement should come to fruition. As stated before, having China in its corner has a great deal of benefits for the UK. The Chinese are involved in the manufacturing of many useful products and components than can go a long way in boosting the UK’s manufacturing, as well as other sectors.

The only issue here is that China and the UK are not the only variables involved in this equation. This is the part that many analysts of this trade situation do not cover well enough or at all.

Once Brexit has happened, the most likely scenario is that London values a free trade deal with the United States more than it does one with China. This is understandable based on the USA’s current status, which can result in massive gain for the UK once EU ties are cut. A huge dependence on industry 4.0 can be expected at that point. This means a need for state-of-the-art technology for investment into areas such as CNC machining, engineering, and digital manufacturing. A deal with the United States is a big step in facilitating this, which is why the prioritization is understandable.

There is no expectation of any direct challenges in securing such a deal with the USA, however, it is likely that such a deal has conditions set that London must meet. The United States must secure its position and its own terms with China. This means that it is likely that the conditions of a UK-USA deal end up dictating that any UK-China agreement has similar conditions to any established between the USA and China. This is a bit of a grey area considering that there is still yet to be a concrete agreement on US-China tariffs. Incidents such as the Trump Administration’s soft ban on dealings with Chinese suppliers such as Huawei only serve to lengthen the process.

For the UK, this means that establishing a free trade agreement with China likely cannot occur until the United States has first established one. Also, based on the discussion concerning the stipulations, London’s deal with China must follow the US-China one. The major reason this is likely is because without placing such restrictions on the UK, the USA risks the possibility of Britain becoming a de facto Chinese warehouse for various Chinese goods. Alternatively, it could end up becoming a “soft” port of entry for many of the Chinese products entering the United States. Of course, this could potentially occur at lower tariffs that those agreed to by Washington.

Currently, you could say that the shots surrounding UK trade are being called by Brussels. With the passing of Brexit, the reigns are simply handed over to Washington as they then become the ones who impose the do’s and don’ts on London where trade is concerned.

If all this is correct, then the only thing that British businesses can do is watch what is happening between Washington and Beijing closely to get some clues and to attempt to ascertain the most likely trade deal blueprint.

Comparing the Cost of Manufacturing after Brexit

COMPARING THE COST OF MANUFACTURING AFTER BREXIT

Concerns surrounding Brexit continue to emerge and arise as the expected October 2019 timeline draws closer.

The UK manufacturing industry is in an unfamiliar state of uncertainty based on the implications that surround leaving the European Union. There have been numerous forecasts, analyses, and predictions, which all spell doom for the industry’s future.

 

Naturally, the cost of manufacturing today and the cost of manufacturing in a post-Brexit world are not the same. Firms are acutely aware of this and are watching keenly before making their next move. This article explores various areas of said production industry and aims to compare the ways in which costs can be expected to differ once Brexit is complete.

CNC Machining After Brexit

This manufacturing process involves using pre-programmed software to control movement of various factory tools and machinery. This allows for the involvement of automation in the production process, which results in improved efficiency.

CNC is integral to the production of precision engineered components, which have been a tremendous contributor to the UK economy for years. This has largely been because of the rate of export to other members of the European Union (EU). The big concern here is what happens then after the UK exits the EU?

CNC Machining service

There are a couple aspects to answering this question. First, there are safety and quality standards. Brexit means that the UK standards and those of the EU may differ. Quality assurance comes at a cost and having to pass two layers of quality is likely to result in an increased, which must be passed on to customers.

Second, there is the tariff consideration. With the barriers removed, exports from the UK become more costly to customers seemingly overnight. By the basic economic rule, as prices increase, demand decreases. Should this hold true, the UK economy could end up taking a big hit.

Finally, many of the components used in CNC machining originate in EU territories such as Germany. The same tariff consideration means that the cost of goods sold also must increase since the low-tariff policy can no longer apply to the UK.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is said to be a huge lifeline for the UK in the wake of Brexit. The idea of industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution, is a paradigm shift in the world of production. It requires a transition to and an investment in various state of the art technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G networking, robotics, digital manufacturing, etc., to create a more efficient and a more productive manufacturing process.

If the UK can position itself ahead of the curve in this revolution, then it gains a competitive advantage in the wake of manufacturing. This, however, is a big “if,” and it requires proper planning and execution. In the post-Brexit modern industrial strategy, which was first outlined in January 2018, the UK Government set out to do the following:

In April of that year, the government also launched a £1 billion fund known as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which was aimed at the development of cutting-edge technology.

While this strategy sounds like it is hitting a lot the right bases, it is not a cheap strategy to implement. That’s a total of £5.7 billion just to start and the investment must be continuous. One of the reasons Germany does so well in the sector is heavy investment. Germany’s manufacturing industry Is 2.7 times as large as that of the UK, plus Germany has managed to invest 6.6 times as much in automation as the UK does.

Apart from pushing the boundaries of available finance, there is the question of the readiness of traditional manufacturers and complex organizations for the fourth industrial revolution. In order to take advantage of the benefits of this paradigm shift, manufacturing businesses must be ready to ease transformation technology into their business model and into their workflow. Even large-scale manufacturers are likely to struggle with doing this at the pace that is necessary to remain afloat and to remain competitive.

Solar Panel

What Does Brexit Mean for Manufacturing?

Taking the step to leave the EU is a huge decision that has numerous implications and consequences, some of which are discussed above. What does this mean for the UK though? It means a couple of things.

First, there must be something to offset the inevitable blow of losing the benefits associated with being a member of the EU. The cost effectiveness of the membership is one of the reasons the manufacturing industry was able to achieve the feats it has over years. This means that new agreements need to be sought out, even if they are with EU territories. If not, the cost of manufacturing may cause the supply chain for many firms to crash and burn.

Second, the competitive advantage that can be gained from embracing technological advancement (assuming the required level of investment can be achieved) must be leveraged. Not only does the Government need to be prepared to invest and make as many provisions as is possible for these companies, but the companies also need to be prepared to make the transformation that is necessary to be more competitive in the industry. The investment also needs to be made in people to increase the number of persons that can take on responsibilities such as those of a design engineer.

Manufacturing Research Robotics

There is no doubt that a change is inevitable in production costs after Brexit has concluded. The lack of surety surrounding the industry is one of the reasons things like new plant construction have decreased. What is important though is the way the UK moves forward once it has exited the EU.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geomiq. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world analytic products as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of any Geomiq Employee.

The Intolerance of Tolerance in Manufacturing Design and CNC Machining

The Intolerance of Tolerance in Manufacturing Design and CNC Machining

When does right become wrong? How do complicated projects get off the design board and break ground? The answer is having faith in tolerance because its importance cannot be underestimated.  Understanding how to achieve precision tolerance during manufacturing process is crucial in succeeding in the supply chain, and it certainly helps to have the right CNC Services on your side. There are no ifs and buts in tolerance, it either conforms or it doesn’t.

By Ross Starkey

Why Is Tolerance Important?

Without tolerance parts wouldn’t fit together, dimensions would vary from one manufacturer to another, and with so much inconsistency, engineered products and even entire buildings wouldn’t function as designed. Any engineer or designer passing on the responsibility for tolerance parameters does so at great risk to the success or suitability of the end product (and their reputation). Everyone knows that tolerance is ultimately one of the most important factors in the journey from drawing board to the finished product.

 

But to what degree is tolerance important? Because there are many types used in varying environments and different materials.

For instance building a gateway over a road at Salford University, that incorporates a fully clad wall isn’t the same as building a bridge, as Simon Atkinson, BAM’s (steelwork) project manager, explains, “Bridges are designed to be flexible, [but] when you put glazing on a bridge it becomes problematic. There is a much lower level of permissible deflection.”

“Bridges are designed to be flexible, [but] when you put glazing on a bridge it becomes problematic. There is a much lower level of permissible deflection.”

Factors Affecting Tolerance Measurement

Tolerance needs to be understood in terms of thickness, straightness, twist and the mass of a component part. Then there is the tolerance that recognises the effects of temperature and humidity on a product. For most designers there are three key considerations to address:

Additional coatings – Machined parts can also have powder coating, anodising, polishing, electroplating, galvanising and heat treating processes, all of which add micro layers,  increasing exterior measurements.

Thermal expansion – When a material has a tendency to change its volume in response to temperature alterations, typical in soft metals and composite material.

Welding process – High temperatures are involved in welding which can have an effect on the material. What’s more, welding isn’t as precise as CNC machine services, so tolerances cannot be measured to the same precise margins.

Having the capability to produce parts to tight tolerances and even to extreme precision tolerances on CNC Machines like those available with Geomiq can become unilaterally important. Especially when designers and engineers impart both necessary and unnecessary narrow tolerances or when other factors affecting them are in play.

CNC Services Achieving Precision Tolerance

In practice, manufacturing tolerances using cutting, milling and drilling tools on a CNC Machine can be affected by a number of small considerations. The main consideration for a manufacturer is overcoming tool deflection, by which we mean the sharpness of the machine tooling and how it can affect the material’s edge geometry. Which is the very point at which the component part is going to be measured for tolerance adherence. Ensuring they are accurate through testing and dummy runs is generally good practice.

It helps if the tolerance the manufacturer applies to their product has little margin for error. At Geomiq standard tolerance is +/-0.127mm, but precision tolerance comes in at +/-0.051mm for all CNC services and it is possible to achieve true precision at +/-0.005mm.

 

Perhaps the most important characteristic for a CNC machine is the capability of it to return the same measurement again and again. Ensuring a CNC Milling tool is highly accurate should be its primary focus. For milling a piece of metal which needs to be 250mm long with radiused grooves at 25.7mm intervals then the tooling on the CNC machine needs to cut the piece exactly. If it really is accurate then it will be closer to 25.7mm every time, without any errors.


For parts that don’t need to be milled then CNC Turning can be used to produce tubes, pipes or anything cylindrical in shape. The accuracy of a turning often means parts have to marry up to or match with or slide into other components. The lathe it is made on and the tooling used needs to be precise, often achieving precision tolerance as a minimum for it to suit purpose.

When Tolerance Goes Wrong

Ambiguity though, is never good. Leaving out tolerances means no-one else further down the supply chain will understand its importance (or non-importance). Get it wrong and it can cause a chain reaction all the way to the end user culminating in what can only be described as one of the four worst scenarios a supplier can experience:

  • Faulty products
  • Remanufacturing costs
  • Delays to customer
  • Reputation damage
  • Redemption costs applied

Tolerances allow measurements to be accurate when it comes to Quality Control. When multiple materials come together to produce component parts, tolerance, measurement and specification all play their part in determining conformance.

Tolerances allow measurements to be accurate when it comes to Quality Control. When multiple materials come together to produce component parts, tolerance, measurement and specification all play their part in determining conformance.

  1. The true value of the part is within specification limits and the measured result is also within conformance limits. This is a true negative as the test for non-conformance would result in a negative (Conforming).

  2. The true value of a part is outside specification limits but the measurement is within conformance limits. This result is a false negative (Conforming/Non-conforming).

  3. The true value of a part is outside specification limits and the measurement result is also outside conformance limits. This is a true positive (Non-conforming)
  4.  The true value of the part is within specification limits but the measurement is outside conformance limits. This is a false positive (Non-conforming).

When manufacturing tolerances are missed it makes conformance of product almost impossible to achieve.

Tolerance as an Innovative Design Feature

For the built environment, prefabricated or modular building has become an increasingly popular way of minimising construction costs for new builds in both residential and urban planning. Tolerance is the one consistent feature of modular construction when multiple different parts coming from different sources all arrive together on site to become a whole.

One award winning design was the 43-storey Atira Student Living tower, built in central Melbourne for RMIT University. Because of its unique design, it is one of the tallest modular buildings in the world. Its Chief Engineer Shan Khan was clear about where the foundation for its success was, “Tolerance was a key consideration of the building and it was the most innovative feature”.

Accuracy, precision and tolerance used in machine processes like CNC turning, drilling, milling  and cutting allow projects to be manufactured as planned and designed. Get it right and projects flow smoothly and without costly delays. Get it wrong and it can have an unfortunate consequence on reputation and the bottom line. Tolerance is a guiding principle that makes so many stakeholders in a project reach a goal, it even makes complicated building projects possible. 

New Advancements in 3D Printing Mean a Better Fit for Amputees

New advancements in 3D printing mean a better fit for amputees

Each year one million amputations occur globally, with below-the-knees procedures
becoming the most common. In the UK, up to 5000 were performed last year. Public
healthcare institutions like the NHS are struggling to meet the implant demand.

By Danielle De La Bastide

For the patient, healing and adapting to a new prosthetic can come with complications of its own, some arising from a bad fit. According to Raconteur, 16 per cent of patients surveyed by NHS England complained the most about socket fit.

Creating a cheaper and adaptable interface between the residual site and artificial limb can help normalise life post-amputation. Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has become a tool needed to achieve this goal. 

There have been many stunning developments in the medical manufacturing arena, most notably in the field of prosthetics. Recently, researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department for Health and Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA) at The University of Bath have combined computer science and innovative manufacturing to create custom prosthetic liners in under one day. 

At the outset of an amputation, the residual limb tends to change shape during the 12 – 18 months of healing time. The current silicone liners offered to connect leg or arm to prosthesis can fail to adjust, causing the amputee to add more layers for comfort and to prevent tissue damage. 

Additive manufacturing uses 3D technologies to create bespoke devices in numerous materials quickly. For the medical community, these methods make for a smooth collaboration due to the rise in demand for more streamlined production and delivery of medical products. 

“We hope to demonstrate this approach is economically viable for use in the NHS and believe this can reduce the burden and costs on the NHS as well as dramatically improve the quality of life of amputees using prosthetics,”

Currently, implants that used to take weeks to produce now take hours with 3D printing methods due to the reliance on computer-aided design (CAD) software. CAD removes the need for creating physical models that can take weeks to produce, and instead uses real-time data from 3D scanners. 

The research team leveraged this process to create a prosthetic liner that is both cost-effective and long-lasting.

“Using a state-of-the-art scanner which quickly captures 3D shape, the research team precisely scans an amputee’s residuum. The scanned data is then used to create a full digital model of the residuum, which is subsequently used to design the personalised liner. The liner is then manufactured using a cryogenic machining technique, negating the need for complex and time-consuming moulds,” states a press release from The University of Bath. 

Typically, an amputee would have to visit their NHS centre multiple times during recovery to refit their liner. The technique proposed by the research team is expected to reduce the time spent using NHS resources by providing the patient with a series of custom liners sized according to the growth of the residual limb. 

L-R: Dr Elena Seminati, John Roberts, Matt Young and Dr Vimal Dhokia

With this process in development, the team hopes to expand their new techniques outside the university walls.

 “We hope to demonstrate this approach is economically viable for use in the NHS and believe this can reduce the burden and costs on the NHS as well as dramatically improve the quality of life of amputees using prosthetics,” concludes the report. 

In the next few years, medicine and manufacturing on-demand (MOD) like 3D printing will only continue to collaborate, through the use of neural integrations, software improvements and socket technology. The future of MOD is set to expedite the treatment process and simplify the supply chain by producing custom materials accurate to the minute detail. With real-time data, manufacturers can begin building prototypes immediately and have parts sent to the client in the same day. 

In the future, obtaining a custom prosthetic won’t be as arduous or costly; the status quo could develop into patients printing a liner or limb themselves.  

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