To cope with increased demand for high quality composite components Formaplex has just installed a new Blackman and White Genesis high speed automated CNC cutting machine.
The Hampshire-based manufacturing group employs over 300 staff across 3 sites and specialises in the manufacture of lightweight components and tooling for the automotive, aerospace, defence, F1 and commercial industries.
“As with many companies supplying high-tech industries such as motorsport and aerospace, we have experienced a huge growth in the demand for composite materials to both reduce weight and increase strength” commented Joe Mason, Composites Production Manager. “Cutting carbon fibre and glass pre-preg material was done manually using knives and rulers, but as this was very labour intensive and time consuming, it was essential that we automate the processes to cope with this increased demand.”
Accuracy and repeatability are critical when cutting composite fabrics as small differences in the pattern can change the properties of the finished product. Blackman and White have many years of experience working with composites and were able to supply a cutting machine that was easy to use and had the precision and flexibility so Formaplex could improve both productivity and quality of the finished kits.
The Genesis 2300 automated cutter has a 1.6 metre wide vacuum bed which locks the material in place for fast and accurate cutting. Nominally 2.8 metres in length, the bed is conveyorised so it can also cope with larger lengths of materials. Intuitive software automatically nests intricate patterns and calculates the most efficient layout to minimise wastage while the computer controlled blade cuts the material at speeds of up to 1200mm/sec.
Mason added, “The new automated cutter not only cuts considerably faster than by hand, but it also cuts intricate shapes with a very high degree of accuracy. Composite materials are expensive, and being able to nest patterns means we can now make the best use of materials, minimise wastage and cut costs. It means we can increase productivity and ensure a high degree of consistency so that every component we manufacture will meet the very high standards of quality that is expected from a world-class manufacturer.”