Case Study Precision mould and die making gets boost from probing
The latest machining technology is key to the success of B K Tooling, a small specialised tool making company based in Little Hallingbury, UK, producing high accuracy mouldings like components for the innovative Aquapacs, waterproof bags for valuables.
Bob Tunks' company B K Tooling employs just five people, and the owner of this small tool making company cannot emphasise enough how critical technology is to his success. He has one machine tool, a high-speed XYZ vertical machining centre, fitted with Renishaw touch and tool setting probes, which he relies on to produce very high quality plastic mould tools and pressure die-cast tools, he says.“If you took my probes away how could I possibly do these jobs accurately?”
Strong market for tooling produced in the UK
“I genuinely believe there is a strong market for tooling produced in the UK. However, it is only those companies who totally embrace the technology who will succeed. Here I am talking about good CAD/CAM systems, high-speed high-accuracy machining centres, and the feedback provided by Renishaw probes to remove the variation from those ‘forgotten’ manual setting processes. You can’t just buy a machine, you have to have the ‘extras’ to make the best use of it and address all the processes involved. I know there are companies who go half way and see some improvement, but miss out on most of the potential benefits.” Tunks continues: “I am offering a service you can’t get when you order tooling from the other side of the world – rapid turn-around, very high accuracy guaranteed from the start and full involvement with the product design teams here in the UK. We really do produce the tooling (and I hate using sound bites) ‘right first time’, while achieving better than 10 μm repeatability on any feature, when compared to the CAD model.”
“There’s a misconception that aerospace or automotive components need the most demanding and tightly toleranced machining – mould and die tooling is just as difficult to machine, maybe even more so,” he adds. “On top of that, I cannot afford for my machine to be wasting time producing scrap – the Aquapac is a perfect example.”
The mould tools to produce Aquapac plastic mouldings are multi-part complex machinings that can be taken apart and re-assembled to produce different sizes of clamp. These parts must go together perfectly; a gap of 20 – 30 μm would result in plastic flowing to the wrong places.