Hi tech solutions to traditional problems
Investment in two Engineering Technology Group (ETG) supplied Quaser MV184 machining centres is supplementing a unique mix of experience and skills for high precision sub-contract engineers Fairbrother & Grimshaw (Engineering) Limited.
Located in a restored mill house in the Cherry Tree district of Blackburn, F&G offers an unrivalled blend of traditional engineering expertise with the latest CNC machining technologies delivered by the two new Quaser 3 axis VMCs and an impressive array of Bridgeport machining centres.
The company has an extensive customer base, many of whom they have worked with for a number of years, across sectors ranging from wallcoverings, automotive, plastics and food. Typically, when a customer makes contact they are looking to solve a production issue so understanding what they hope to achieve is important for both parties.
Managing Director Neil Grimshaw and his fellow director David Fairbrother each have over 30 years’ experience in specialist engineering and sub-contracting and they always endeavour to develop a suitable solution, often to meet very tight deadlines.
As Neil Grimshaw explains, they adopt a distinctive approach: “This area of Lancashire is steeped in engineering. We set out our stall as high-end subcontractors but do an awful lot of project engineering where customers often turn up with a component saying ‘it doesn’t work very well’ or ‘we need one of these but better!’
“Quality is always an issue with us because we only have one standard – the very best. That’s why we have never stinted on purchasing high-end machine tools and these two Quaser’s are proving to be top draw.”
The Quaser MV184 EH is a three-axis VMC and it comes highly specified. This was an attraction to F&G because, as Neil explains, “you can buy cheaper but by the time you’ve added all the extras, it often comes out more expensive.
“These machines arrived with pretty much everything we need and have the added advantage of Heidenhain controls which our operators are very familiar with. The only added extra has been the purchase of a Nikken 4th axis which is easily removable and can be used across both machines,” he explains. “It gives us another dimension which is always useful.”
The Quaser MV1 series is a very popular range of machines offering high-speed X/Y/Z movement and acceleration along with a 12,000rpm, 40 taper spindle. It also features large X and Y travels (1020mm and 610mm respectively) and benefits from the Big-Plus spindle technology with its face and taper contact and unique grease replenishing system. High pressure thro coolant is a standard and important feature.
Of his customer base, Neil can cite many unusual projects requiring ingenious modern-day solutions.
“People walk through the door to see us. A chap with a rosewood wallpaper roller – it was ancient – wanting a new one. No brief, no drawing but wanted it quickly. We created a new version in stainless steel and it runs perfectly. When they wanted a wider wallpaper print (other than the traditional 21”) we recommended how they modify the main printing machine but keeping the original cast iron side plates – and supplied all the wider precision rollers.
“We do a lot of work in the food industry, again often being quite creative. A pie producer wanted a crimping effect around the top of a pie but it had to be fitted to existing machines. We made one. Another project involved modifying a dough mould that simply didn’t extrude properly. Again, the problem was solved.”
Having machine tools like the Quaser also allows the G&F team to adopt modern techniques. “We always try to machine from solid because it makes for a better end product,” concludes Neil. “Castings and customer supplied materials (other than ultrasound tested nuclear steels) can result in inefficient machining processes because of problems with clamping and access. It means a quality compromise and we won’t do that.”
For further information about the services of F&G visit www.fairbrotherandgrimshaw.co.uk