Cost-Effective Reverse Engineering, CNC Milling, Turning & Lathe Services
Bredo Mators are experienced in providing holistic precision and reverse engineering solutions, from the design and prototype stages to the development and manufacture of complex components in almost any metal or plastic.
Our highly skilled and experienced staff take pride in delivering high quality engineering solutions with quick turnaround times to help you maximise your efficiency.
Utilising the latest technology in automated lathes, computer numerical control (CNC) allows unprecedented levels of precision engineering, with speeds capable of meeting any production need.
Swiss turning is a process that was developed for use in the Swiss watch industry more than 130 years ago. Unlike conventional CNC machining lathes, where the part is stationary and the tool moves, Swiss turning reverses the action and allows the part to move in the Z axis, while the tool itself is stationary.
Swiss type lathes are unique for this sliding headstock mechanism, which utilises a standard single-point turning tool placed very close to the guide bushing. By feeding the material through the bushing and past the tool, greater rigidity is achieved throughout the turning process. Due to this, long and slender components are a key feature of the machines capabilities. Issues such as chatter and taper, often associated with traditional lathes, are largely eliminated using the Swiss method.
The biggest advantage of the machines is their ability to create slender, or short, complex parts, which are difficult to support in conventional CNC turning in CNC lathes. The small proximity between the cutting tool and the workpiece support bushing, generally requires that a greater amount of material must be removed in a single pass. However, due to the superb rigidity of the Swiss process, larger depths of cut are not only possible, but more efficient.
CNC milling is a CNC cutting process which uses rotary cutters to remove material from the surface of a workpiece. Like drilling, the CNC milling machine uses a rotating cutting tool. However milling cutters usually move perpendicular to its axis so that cutting occurs at the circumference of the cutter.
CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing industry that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Short for Computer Numerical Control (CNC), some of the tools which can be controlled in this manner include mills, lathes, laser cutting, welding and many other machine shop operations.
Bredo Mators caters for all production sizes. Whether you are looking to build a single custom prototype, a production run of complex parts, or reproduce via reverse engineering, the facility has modern machines and staff required for the task. Jobbing refers to non-repetitive, customised production. Labour is typically kept to a single or a few people, in a linear process where one task is completed before the next starts.
Quality control and testing is an integral part of CNC machining, CNC milling, reverse engineering, precision engineering and repetition engineering processes at Bredo Mators. Product testing ensures units precisely fit the design specs, and meet or exceed our customers’ professional standards.
Coordinate measure machines (CMM) are used to accurately measure the physical geometric characteristics of the product. This enables consistent product reliability checks by comparing dimensional, positional and surface measurements against the design intent. The measurement machine reads input from a probe, either directed by an operator or programmer, and using the X, Y, and Z coordinates of the points, it can calculate the distance and tolerance within micrometre precision. The latest advances in technology are used to confirm the integrity of fabricated pieces. Modern optical probes are lens-CCD systems which are moved similar to mechanical ones, but are aimed at the point of interest, and do not touch the material. Additionally, surface images can be analysed to create virtual points in space, which streamline the quality recognition process. Quality assurance is an effective way of preventing mistakes or defects in manufactured products. Bredo Mators prides itself in its repeatable quality and precision engineering, so you can be confident that your product will be built to requirement.
A quality product relies on both good manufacturing, and good design. At Bredo Mators, designs can be modified, re-built, or fabricated based on your product specifications as well as through reverse engineering. In-house engineers and craftsmen will design a professional product using their experience and extensive knowledge of manufacturing techniques. Computer aided design increases the productivity of the designer, ensures the quality of the product, and enhances communications from the engineer to the client. Utilising the latest software technology, features are added to the virtual component until the final model is complete. A digital model is highly editable, and any dimensions or tolerances can easily be changed. The result is automatically reflected in the final model. Another key advantage of 3D design is the ability to validate a concept in the digital environment. Digital stress testing on the virtual prototype can ensure the strength of the product, and display the critical areas which would be the first points of failure. Multi-component assemblies can be used to validate tolerances and tolerance stacking, as well as detecting interference between moving parts. 3D design is closely interlinked with modern CNC machining and CNC milling systems, as the solid model is analysed by the fabrication software before the tool path is created. Only with in-depth knowledge of the manufacturing and design capabilities can the most efficient, and cost-effective product be created.
Drafting is the act of composing plans or technical drawings that communicate how something is to be constructed. The mechanics of a drafting task are largely completed through computer aided drawing (CAD), where reference sketches or 2D plans are used to construct a more useful digital file.
Ultrasonic cleaning involves the use of high frequency sound waves to dislodge micro particulates from hard surfaces. Parts are immersed in aqueous media, and frequencies above the upper range of human hearing (about 20 kHz – 80 kHz) are used to remove a wide variety of contaminants. Cleaning normally lasts between three and six minutes, but can sometimes exceed 20 minutes depending on the part.
Most hard, non-absorbent materials are suitable for ultrasonic cleaning, such as, metals, glass and ceramics. The usual contaminants removed are oils, grease, dirt, rust, polishing compounds or fingerprints. Ultrasonic cleaning can be used for a wide range of workpiece shapes and sizes, and disassembly is not required prior to cleaning. The object to be cleaned is placed in a chamber containing the aqueous solution. This can simply be water, however an appropriate solvent enhances the effect. The sound waves form micron-size bubbles within the solution, which grow due to the alternation of the ultrasonic waves. This process is called cavitation. Once a bubble reaches the resonant size it will cavitate, or implode, at the surface of the part immersed in the cleaning unit. These bubbles collapse with great energy, however, due to their size they do no more than clean the contaminants from the surface of the part. The higher the frequency of the cleaning unit, the smaller the nodes are between the cavitation points, and this allows for cleaning of more intricate detail.
LIST OF NETWORK SERVICES
Plating is an engineering application where the surface of a material is covered by a thin metal layer. It is performed for a number of chemical or mechanical reasons. It can prevent corrosion, improve wear resistance, harden, reduce friction, alter conductivity, improve paint adhesion, or one of many more reasons depending on the process or materials used. In electroplating, the workpiece is submerged in a chemical solution and an electrical current is applied. The difference in charge results in the cationic metal forming a layer on the electrode workpiece. The coating is primarily used to change the surface properties of an object, however it can also be used to build up thickness around thin members. Electroless nickel plating is a chemical reaction used to deposit a coating of nickel on a substrate. Unlike electro-plating, the reaction is auto-catalytic, and an electrical current is not required to form the surface layer. Electroless nickel plating is categorised as a cold process, and runs with temperatures of 85 – 95°C. This low temperature ensures that no detrimental effects occur to the mechanical properties of the base material. The electroless method has several advantages over electroplating. It provides an even deposit regardless of the workpiece geometry, and when using a pre-plate catalyst, can deposit on non-conductive surfaces.
Anodising is a finishing process for aluminium components which uses an electrolytic process to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the object’s surface. It is called anodising as the metal part forms the anode electrode of an electrical circuit. It’s used to improve corrosion resistance and wear resistance, as well as providing better adhesion for paint and glue over untreated metal. The process involves creating a thick and porous oxide layer on the surface of the part. In the electrolytic process, the treated parts are made an anode in a dilute acid solution. Oxidation occurs at the surface, and an oxide film is formed on the underlying metal substrate. Coloured dye is then introduced to this porous layer and sealed to create a durable finish. The oxide layer is typically 5 to 30 µm in thickness. Hard anodising refers to the preparation of thicker oxide coatings, which can be 25 to 100 µm thick. This process can be used to create hard wearing surfaces up to 60 RC. This is achieved by using a lower temperature and a higher sulphuric acid concentration during the process. The coatings produced are grey to black in colour, non-porous, and particularly suitable for protection against low stress abrasion. For this reason, many sliding mechanisms use hard anodised materials.
Nitriding is a heat treating process where nitrogen is added to the surface of metal parts to create a thin but high hardness case. It is commonly used on low-carbon, low-alloy steels, and on parts which require hardened surfaces such as gears, valves or dies. The main advantage of nitriding over other surface hardening processes is that case hardening is developed with relatively low temperatures. This removes the need for quenching and avoids the associated distortion problems. Nitrided surfaces are highly wear resistant and provide anti-galling properties, which is why the treatment is greatly beneficial to moving or sliding parts such as gears or crankshafts. Fatigue life is also improved, as is corrosion resistance. Additionally, the surface hardness is resistant to softening by temperatures up to the process temperature. The method involves the diffusion of nitrogen from a donor medium into the base steel. In the gas nitriding process, the donor is a nitrogen rich gas, usually ammonia (NH3). When the gas comes into contact with the heated work piece, it disassociates into its chemical components nitrogen and hydrogen. The nitrogen then diffuses onto the surface of the material creating a hardened nitride layer. Typical depths are 0.25 to 0.35 mm. Greater depths are possible but require significantly longer cycle times due to the slow diffusion rate of nitrogen into steel.
Surface grinding is an abrasive machining process used to produce a smooth finish on flat surfaces. The grinding wheel is covered in rough particles that contact a workpiece, and very small chips are removed in an even manner until the required flatness is reached. The finish on the material is smooth to touch, has a refined look, and often machined to fit a functional purpose. Typical workpiece materials include mild steel, cast iron, aluminium or stainless steels. A chuck holds the material in place underneath the spinning wheel, while a reciprocating or rotary table controls the movement of the surface relative to the wheel. Precision of a surface grinder is around ± 0.002 mm depending on type and usage. Cylindrical grinding is a method used to shape the outside of a curved object. Both the workpiece and the grinding wheel are constantly rotating, and either the work or the grinding wheel is traversed with respect to the other. Cylindrical grinding can produce smooth and uniform finish on the inside or outside diameter of a workpiece. While the precise finish of surface grinding can be practical or aesthetic for some parts, the high temperatures encountered at the surface can create residual stresses and form a thin martensitic layer on the surface. This generally decreases the fatigue strength, and the surface may experience less corrosion resistance.
Material characterisation is a fundamental part of understanding engineering materials and their suitable applications. Material analysis refers to the general process by which a material’s structure and properties are probed and measured. This could include identification through surface analysis, structural and chemical testing, or one of many other advanced testing methods. Cracks and failure analysis investigates the means by which a material deforms or fails its purpose. Testing products at the point of manufacture is essential to avoid products from cracking or breaking while in service. Once cracks are identified, and their nature analysed, critical points can be strengthened or re-designed to compensate for the vulnerability. Metrology is the science of measurement, from the Greek word metron, meaning “measure”. Measurement covers experimental determinations, as well as any level of uncertainty associated with the values. Applied metrology is the method of accurately measuring the distance between reference points, to ensure a part is manufactured to tolerance and successfully fits its purpose. Materials for production need to be chosen to maximise the suitability for the application. Engineers achieve balance between material properties such as cost, strength, weight, toughness, hardness, corrosion and fatigue resistance. The environment in which the part is being used needs to be carefully considered, as well as the manufacturability of the material.
Assembly & Packaging
Packaging engineering is one of the final steps along the manufacturing process. Package design includes industry specific aspects of industrial engineering, logistics, design and marketing. The package must protect and transport the product, while maintaining an efficient, cost effective process cycle. Assembly tasks are the organisation of multi-bodied components into their final or near-final arrangement. The final preparations for the product are dependent on the quantity or form of the object. If the object is small and delicate, then the handling and packaging will serve to protect the unit from bumps and abrasions during transport. If the item is larger and manufactured in higher quantities, uniform palletised unit loads are more practical and cost effective. Our objective is to optimise the production process by using clever packing techniques, minimising handling time, and reducing the need for excessive facility space. We guarantee quality, and ensure that our clients receive secure and reliable products and assemblies.
Broaching is a machining process that removes material using a toothed tool, called a broach. The broach is a unique tool that is pulled or pushed over a surface, and combines the use of multiple cutting teeth in a single stroke. The basic axial tool has rough, semi finish, and finishing cutting teeth in a linear arrangement. The cutting edges of a broach are similar to a saw, except the height of the teeth increases over the length of the tool. Each sequential tooth varies in size and shape in a manner that allows each tooth to remove a chip of the appropriate thickness. The shape and spacing is determined by the length of the part being broached, the amount of material being removed, and the broaching machine. Broaching is commonly used when precision machining is required on odd shapes, which would be difficult to machine with traditional methods. Some of these situations can include surfaces inside circular and non-circular holes, splines and keyways. For low-quantity production runs the process can be expensive, however broaching is often favoured over other processes when high quantities are required. There are a number of different types of broaching techniques that all follow the same principle. Surface broaches are the simplest tools, and used for cutting flat surfaces. Internal broaches are either pushed or pulled through a part to cut features into an internal surface. External form broaches are guided in a holding fixture and can support larger cutting forces.
Laser cutting is a technology that uses a high-powered laser beam to cut through materials. Industrial laser machines concentrate the energy into a small, well-defined spot, and the material at the focal point of the laser is vaporised. This leaves a precise cut with high quality surface finish. The typical use of laser cutting is in flat-sheet material, however it can also be used to cut structural and piping members. The laser beam is generated by stimulating a laser material with electrical discharges. The emitted light is then reflected internally until it achieves sufficient energy to escape as a beam of monochromatic light. Mirrors or fibre optics are then used to direct the light to a lens, which focuses the light at the desired work zone. The focused beam is generally less than 0.32 mm in thickness, and as it vaporises the material a kerf width of equal distance is left in the workpiece. There are three common types of laser cutting that have the efficiency and output power to execute large scale material processing: CO2, Fiber, and Nd:YAG Lasers. CO2 lasers are gas lasers that use carbon dioxide as the lasing medium. Common cutting materials include mild steel, aluminium, stainless steel, plastics, wood, and fabrics. Fiber and YAG’s are both solid state lasers that use elements like Neodymium (Nd) diffused in a crystal of Ytterbium-Aluminium-Garnet (YAG), or glass in the case of Fiber, as the laser medium. Fiber and YAG are suited for highly reflective metals such as copper, brass and aluminium.
A water jet cutter uses a very high pressure narrow stream of water to cut material. An abrasive substance is often added to the water to cut harder materials like metal or granite. Softer materials such as wood or rubber however can successfully be cut with no abrasive particles added. This form of precision engineering uses super accelerated erosion, with high pressure water as the propellant. The cutter is connected to a high pressure water pump, where the water is ejected from the nozzle in a jet at around 1 mm – 1.2 mm in diameter. Additives in the form of suspended grit or other abrasives are added to the stream shortly before leaving the nozzle, to avoid erosion within the cutting unit. Unlike other cutting methods, water jet does not vaporise or heat the workpiece in any way. This means there is no material deformation or hardening, and the clean edges require little or no finishing. Water jets can produce complex geometry with specialised software and 3D machining heads. The accuracy of a machine can be down to 0.1 mm, and repeatabilities of 0.025 mm. The cut quality and accuracy is affected by the speed of the water jet cutting machine, where the highest quality cuts are generally done with the cutting head moving at 20% speed.
Polishing is a finishing or preparation process that uses an abrasive wheel to smooth the surface of a workpiece. The final result is a bright, smooth reflective finish. Polishing is used to enhance the cosmetic look an item, prevent corrosion, or produce a very flat surface. In order to prevent oxidation after the process is completed, polished metal surfaces are often coated with oil, wax, or lacquer. The quality of a polishing job can be affected by its pre-treatment condition. Removing rust, paint, oils and grease from the workpiece can be critical to the success of the project. Brass, stainless steels and aluminium alloys are all ideal materials for polishing, and when done well, can look great for an extended period. Polishing is generally used to enhance or restore the look of exposed metals parts on vehicles, handrails, kitchenware and architectural metal. In other applications, such as pharmaceutical or dairy, polishing is used to prevent corrosion and eliminate locations where bacteria or mould may reside. Buffing is a similar process, but has a softer contact on the surface. Unlike polishing, which uses an abrasive glued to the work wheel, buffing has a less aggressive loose aggregate. Buffed surfaces have a smoother surface finish, and a brighter and more mirror-like surface than polished items.
Laser engraving uses the energy of a focused laser to engrave words or symbols on an object. Unlike laser marking, which simply discolours the surface of an object, laser engraving cuts permanently in to the surface. The technique does not require inks, tool bits, or have any wearing contacts, and so it is a fast and cost effective process. Light materials like wood and acrylic plastics were traditionally the best candidates for laser engraving. The low power capabilities of the early engraving machines matched the required output for material vaporisation. Most wood can be engraved with less than 10 watts of power. Due to advances in technology, new lasers can use shorter wavelengths and metals are now easily engraved using commercial systems. The impact of laser engraving and marking in electronics has driven the production of specially designed laserable materials. These laser sensitive polymers and metal alloys allow for engravings on tiny surfaces much smaller than the human eye can resolve. Materials respond differently to the power and speeds of a laser system. Most metals require a great amount of power to gain acceptable results. If the engraving machine is lacking in power, then the cutting speed needs to be reduced to compensate. The thickness and depth of the engraving is also another major factor in determining cycle time.
Hardness describes how resistant a material is to plastic deformation is when a compressive force is applied. It is a property of a material that is generally tested with indent penetration, however hardness can also refer to the resistance to scratching, bending, abrasion or cutting. The higher the hardness of a metal, the more force is required to permanently deform it. The Rockwell hardness test is a method that indents the test material with a diamond cone or hardened steel indenter. The penetration load contacts the test material with a standard load, and the resulting penetration depth is measured and a hardness value derived from a scale. Toughness is a related concept that describes how much energy a material can absorb without fracturing. Toughness requires a balance of strength and ductility, and tough materials generally have the ability to deform before fracturing. Brittle materials like ceramics are known to be strong, but with their limited ductility, are not tough. Conversely, materials with high ductility but low strength are still not tough. Toughness indicates how much energy a material can absorb without fracturing, strength indicates how much force a material can support, and hardness indicates the ability to resist plastic deformation.
Bead blasting is an abrasive process which removes surface deposits from a workpiece by blasting it with fine glass beads. The beads are propelled within a high pressure stream, however, the bead velocity is restrained to not damage to the surface. Bead blasting is used to remove contaminants from a surface such as burrs, paint, or calcium deposits. The cleaning action is similar in principle to sandpaper, although with far greater efficiency. Tumbling is a method for smoothing and polishing rough edges on small parts. An item, or more often multiple items, are placed within a horizontal barrel which is then rotated. Within the barrel is oil, water, or another lubricant, and a contact media such as sand or granite chips. After a cycle time of 6 – 24 hours slowly spinning in the barrel, the items will be deburred, de-flashed, surface hardened, cleaned, and polished, depending on which complementary media is used. Tumbling is an economical finishing process as very little user intervention is required, and it works well with large batches. A limitation of this process is that the abrasive action cannot be limited to specific areas of a part. Additionally, complex internal surfaces may get less action than external ones. Due to the very low cost of tumbling, it is a common and useful finishing process.
Wire cut Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is an electro thermal process where a thin metal wire passes through a workpiece, vaporising or melting the material between them. The electrified wire acts as the cathode, and a dielectric fluid submerges the wire and the workpiece. An electrical discharge jumps the gap between the wire and the workpiece, and the resultant sparking causes the material removal. The taut brass wire is wound around two spools, so that the active part of the wire is constantly changing. This avoids erosion of the material on the wire and extends the tool life. The thinness of the wire allows for very precise cuts, with positional accuracy of ± 0.005 mm. The process works well for complex three dimensional cuts, and can produce highly accurate punches, tools and dies that are difficult to machine with other methods. Modern multi axis EDM wire cutting machines have tighter tolerances and multiple heads for cutting two parts at the same time. Due to there being no direct contact between the tool and the workpiece, there is no pressure from the cutting tool on the piece. As a result of this, both very hard and very delicate materials can be cut to close tolerances.
Metal forming is the process where metal parts are shaped through mechanical deformation in order to reach a desired physical shape. The workpiece is reshaped without adding or removing material, and can be done in hot or cold temperatures. The forming processes are categorised by the different effective stresses they exert on the workpiece. Compressive forming, such as extrusion, simply pushes the material through a strengthened orifice. The extrusion is shaped to the geometry of the hole. Rolling is the process where material is passed through a pair of rollers, to flatten its thickness and add surface features. Generally, very high load are required to overcome the yield limits of the materials. Large heavy and expensive machinery is required to accommodate such high stresses and loads, and so economy of production usually compensates when there are many parts. Stamping is the forming process where a flat metal sheet is pressed into shape by using a stamping tool and die. Some varieties include punching, blanking, embossing, flanging, and bending, either in a multi-step process or streamlined into a single motion. The process is typically carried out on cold sheet metal to maintain the integrity of the material, and to improve the surface finish.
To find out how our precision and repetition engineering services can help you maximise your production efficiencies, contact Bredo Mators today.