Company News

Meltham Carbide Invests in Rollomatic

Meltham Carbide Precision who are located near Huddersfield have become one of the latest UK based companies to invest in a Rollomatic CNC Peel Grinding machine.

Meltham, who were founded in 1976, and are owned and managed by Eric Charlesworth, are a specialist manufacturer of plug gauges and components such as punches, mould and core pins, and blank carbide rods for the cutting tool industry. They have a broad customer base across a wide range of industries including Formula 1, Aerospace, Toolmakers, Fasteners, Medical and Cutting Tools. Meltham's capacity includes for centreless grinding, surface grinding and cylindrical grinding with capabilities for producing parts in a wide variety of materials including steel, carbide and ceramic.

Whilst the largest market for Meltham is the UK they are also successfully exporting to countries all around the world including Taiwan, Egypt, Germany and Italy.

Eric Charlesworth had been aware of the Rollomatic tool grinding machines for some time and had identified a need for grinding his parts to a higher precision and reducing manufacturing times and in particular removing the need to transfer parts across several different machines to arrive at the finished result. He was therefore looking for a machine capable of producing parts to the highest precision in a single automatic operation; including an ability to produce large batches of parts and to run all night unmanned, whilst equally producing very special tools in small batches during the day.

As the purchase of the machine would be the largest single investment ever made by the company it was of course very important that the very best and most capable machine was chosen and so investigations were carried out over some months that including visiting the Mach show in April 2018 where Eric and his colleague Peter Nash visited the Advanced Grinding Solutions stand and saw the Rollomatic NP grinding machine.

Having received a demonstration they were attracted by the machines pinch and peel grinding method that ensures that the grinding operation is always carried out immediately adjacent to where the component is supported. This allows parts with a very large length to diameter ratio to be machined with ease with component part lengths of up to 400 times the part diameter to be ground without deflection issues and with diameters then controlled to under 0.002mm across large batches of ground parts.

After seeing the Rollomatic machine at the Mach show, Meltham continued their investigations into looking at many different grinding machines before deciding to opt to purchase the Rollomatic machine in January of this year.

Explaining his choice of machine, Eric Charlesworth comments that the Rollomatic Shapesmart grinder is the only proven solution available in the marketplace that gives him the flexibility, degree of high precision and mirror like surface finishes that is needed to produce his components in one automatic operation. Whilst other machines are available these mostly do not offer the ability to both rough and finish grind in one operation, and in the case of the Rollomatic both at the same time if desired, and as a complete package he could not find better.

Eric further quantifies how the Rollomatic machine has improved the manufacturing efficiency at Meltham Carbide and states that just one example of how the machine has improved their efficiency is in manufacturing a set of 10 carbide punches 6.350mm Ø x 110mm long with a point, radius and 3 different diameters with 5-micron tolerances. This would have taken us a full day to manufacture previously and now on the Rollomatic we have just 15 minutes to set up and around 2 hours grinding time. The surface finish is also much better and the lengths and diameters are all well within tolerance.

Meltham Carbide decided to send engineers to Rollomatic's HQ in Switzerland for the operator training course and commented that they thoroughly enjoyed their time in the state-of-the-art factory and that the training was excellent and whilst "full-on" was extremely helpful and informative.

The Rollomatic machine that is now installed into Meltham Carbide's works has a general working range for parts from 0.025mm to 25mm in diameter with the autoloading of up to 1,000 parts from pallets via a fully integrated 3-axis robot loader. The multi-axis Shapesmart NP3+ machine allows for stepped diameters, angles, tapers and chamfers to be ground with ease.

The software in conjunction with the rough and finish grinding wheels set up allows users to specify multi-pass grinding operations for roughing and/or finishing to achieve the highest possible level of accuracy whilst creating superior surface finishes on tapers and radii. Even the longest of tools are produced with runout of concentricity of under 0.001mm from this high precision grinding machine.

Renishaw and Marposs gauges are used for part positioning and for the post-process automatic gauging of ground diameters with automatic feedback to the Rollomatic machines Fanuc control. This ability to automatically gauge parts upon loading and again after grinding was important to Meltham as it has allowed them to introduce unmanned production overnight in the knowledge that parts are machined to great accuracy without the need of operator intervention and furthermore should the gauge detect any unwanted change in quality it will stop ensuring no batch work is scraped off. Eric Charlesworth indeed comments that the best advantages the Rollomatic machine brings to Meltham Carbide is use of the ‘lights out’ feature which means that they can now set up a job and leave it running during the night or even over the entire weekend using the robot loader and Marposs auto measuring system.

As with all Rollomatic grinding machines the NP3+ machine comes with Rollomatic's industry leading 3 years parts and labour warranty that comes as standard and with free software updates for life to ensure that all Rollomatic end users are always kept ahead of the game. Meltham explained that the 3-year warranty is a big plus for them and was something not offered by other potential vendors and the after sales support by Rollomatic's UK based service team has been very helpful to them in getting the best out of the machine.

Eric concludes that the Rollomatic machine has simply transformed his production stating that he previously had to manufacture punches using 3 separate machines and was constantly having to reset those to get the job within tolerances and with parallelism and roundness being difficult to achieve and that now on the Rollomatic he has just one automatic set up and the parts are made perfectly round and parallel and the surface finish is excellent with the radii being ground to precisely the correct size.

Chris Boraston, MD at Advanced Grinding Solutions is naturally delighted with the sale of the Rollomatic machine to Meltham Carbide Precision commenting that this is precisely the type of new customer that AGS are looking to add to Rollomatic’s already impressive UK and Irish customer base. With more rotary tools of all kinds being manufactured on Rollomatic’s here in the UK and in Ireland than on any other make of grinding machine they are of course one of the leaders in their field and in the last year we have been able to add a number of new customers that have become Rollomatic end users for the first time and this is especially pleasing. The Rollomatic NP3 and NP5 machines (newly designated as NP50) are the firm favourite for tool manufacturing companies and it's good to see other forms of specialist makers of tools and punches investing in these machines to increase the precision of their parts and to drastically reduce their cycle times.

Advanced Grinding Solutions, Sole UK agents for Rollomatic, may be contacted +44 (0) 2476 22 66 11 or via their website accordingly.


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