18 June 2012
WDS Fixturing Systems helps medical parts maker boost output, accurately
WDS Fixturing Systems, a division of WDS Component Parts, has worked with a specialist UK manufacturer of medical devices to help develop the machining process for stainless steel components used in metering equipment so accurate it can measure down to individual molecules
Due to a recent increase in demand, WDS was tasked with upgrading the existing workholding solution to enable machine capacity to quadruple; allowing a two-stage drilling and reaming operation to be completed 4-up on a new 5-axis CNC machine.
The components are known as 'Ion Blocks' and required many small holes to be drilled and reamed into them. This type of complex component required a specialised workholding solution to ensure fast changeovers, repeatability and accuracy over the two-stage machining operation.
WDS engineers were able to design a cube fixture solution that would allow 4-up components that sees precision chucks used for the first machining operation and bespoke fixture plates that locate and bolt the components for the final finish milling operation.
Nick Gautier, project and technical sales engineer for WDS Fixturing Systems, explains: "The medical device company was already aware of our capabilities, as we had provided them with an earlier two-stage workholding solution. The challenge this time was to develop a way of mounting four work pieces in a very tight area on the new 5-axis machine. WDS carried out a site visit to meet with the head engineer and measure the cutter paths and spindle clearances of the new machine to make sure our cube design would work. The components need to be extremely accurate and designed specifically for the application; fortunately, our own manufacturing expertise allows us to deliver on this."
WDS is at an advantage as it has been supplying both off-the-shelf and bespoke fixturing and workholding systems for CNC machining applications since the very first CNCs were introduced. The company offers a range of core work piece support elements such as baseplates 3,000 mm by 1,800 mm; cubes and double-siders up to 1,000 by 1,300 mm; and 3,700 by 2,000mm jigs with boring capacity; all in cast iron or aluminium. These are an ideal fit for most machine centre pallet sizes and can easily be adapted for specialist applications such as this.
Concludes Mr Gautier: "When manufacturing medical equipment, it is essential that components are held in place accurately and without risk of damage. We specialise in bespoke solutions to very high tolerances in a range of materials and in this instance our experience, in-house manufacturing capacity and site visits to inspect the CNC machine and discuss the solution with engineers onsite ensured we were then able to provide an ideal solution."
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