Droitwich-based company Barton Coldform is on of Europe’s leading manufacturers of bespoke critical fastenings and special cold forgings. For more than 80 years, engineers across Europe have turned to Barton to solve the most complex problems.
Barton were keen to find out what opportunities there might be through working with the team at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation. They were keen to find out about how Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) could work for their business. They often have requests from clients to demonstrate parts quickly; however the normal process to develop tooling for a part can take up to 14 weeks. They wanted to know if using ALM to produce demonstrator parts could be feasible for their product development, verification and validation process.
Polymer expert, Dr Paul Milne, spent time with Barton’s Managing Director, Andrew Nuttall, to assess the different technical processes involved in ALM and their commercial strengths as well as limitations. Under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) Andrew shared designs from a large automotive customer with Paul who went on to print prototypes of the designs to assess quality, fit and form in comparison with the equivalent parts normally manufactured in metal. Andrew was surprised at the quality of the printed parts and used them to demonstrate to the customer what an actual finished product would look like. The customer was happy and was able to use the printed parts to assess feasibility of the parts working in their assembly. The client’s engineers were able to ‘touch’ their design and communicate changes to Barton. The delivery of the printed prototype to the client saved weeks of development time and Barton were delighted that the customer placed an order to manufacture tens of thousands of the parts following the demonstration.
The customer order was worth almost £300,000 to Barton. This has led to the safeguarding of one job in the business and the creation of another. The use of ALM will now be considered regularly as an option to create demonstrator parts for customers of Barton going forward. It will lead to increased efficiencies and will act as an incentive when approaching new customers.
This technology is a revelation in our manufacturing processes. Whilst we are not yet able to make actual parts using this technology, being able to showcase the fit and form of our parts to customers using additive manufacturing means that lead times are much shorter and customers are able to move their designs and production forward at a faster pace.
Andrew Nuttall, Managing Director, Barton Coldform Ltd