Thomas Broadbent Gets Spinning with Rapid Manufacturing Technology
Thomas Broadbent & Sons Ltd of Huddersfield, was formed in 1864 and over the years has built a diverse range of products including steam engines, a car and large overhead travelling cranes. Towards the late 1800’s much of Broadbent’s efforts were directed at designing and manufacturing centrifuges for the textile industry.
By the early 1900’s this range of centrifuges had expanded to include the sugar industry and the emerging chemical industry, both in the UK and worldwide, and this remains the prime product of Broadbent in the 21st century with over 4500 installations in over 100 countries.
Centrifuge manufacture requires a detailed knowledge of material performance under high rotational speeds with the need to be able to specify and obtain component parts of high integrity. Most units are designed for specific operations and, as such, many component parts are bespoke with limited repeat applications likely. This is not a major problem where parts are fabricated but where there is a requirement for castings, then the issue of pattern manufacture for low series is a significant item in both the time required for pattern preparation, the cost and also the subsequent storage of patterns.
With the receipt of a new order for decanter centrifuges to process bio fuels, Broadbents contacted CT to explore the possibility of using rapid manufacturing, Patternless® technology for the supply of feed chamber and accelerator cone castings for a 750mm unit.
Following a number of development discussions, the manufacture of the castings was agreed using a CT Patternless® rapid manufacturing process to provide five off each stainless steel castings.
From the CAD data supplied, the patterns were manufactured using a rapid, low cost layer manufacturing technique developed by CT. This produces castings with exceptional dimensional accuracy and surface finish. The castings were also produced at CT and the parts were inspected, tested and proof machined to meet the specified material and delivery requirements.
John Bennett, Group Quality Manager of Broadbents says that the ability to prepare, manufacture and supply small quantities of high alloy stainless steel castings within a short time scale and to a high quality level is essential in the current economic climate.
The rapid manufacturing capabilities of CT have allowed Broadbents to meet their stringent customer requirements and retain business in the competitive global market with the benefit of safeguarding £200k of sales, ten jobs and ensuring good prospects for further business in this growing market sector. The application of rapid manufacturing technology has been shown to be successful in the commercial environment and offers significant advantages for future orders.