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Aerospace workholding collaboration gets the green light

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A bespoke fixturing solution, for use in a new Aerospace ‘green button‘ cell, was developed as a result of a major collaboration between Brown & Holmes (Tamworth) Limited and Roemheld (UK) Limited.

Engineers from a major Aerospace supplier approached precision machining and workholding subcontractor, Brown & Holmes, to deliver a purpose-built solution for manufacturing a series of components within a ‘green button‘ cell. One of the main goals of this new cell was to radically reduce the amount of manual intervention in the manufacturing process. The fixtures would move the components through the mill/turn cell utilising robot handling, without any human interaction from when the fixtures entered the cell until they returned to storage after the completion of the machining processes.

Kevin Ward, Joint Director of Brown & Holmes, said: “This presented us with several challenges. We needed to ensure accurate and repeatable positioning of the components into the fixture, repeatable fixture location onto the machine tool and positive clamping and support of the component through the machining processes: alongside a number of size and weight constraints.“

In addition, all fixtures and clamping elements had to be of stainless steel construction. A hot water wash within the cell would clean down fixtures and components between operations and at the end of the process. This could give rise to water staying on the fixtures for an extended period of time. If stainless steel was not used, there was a risk that standing water could lead to corrosion and ultimately failure of the fixtures.

To help meet these challenges, Brown & Holmes worked closely with hydraulic workholding and handling technology supplier, Roemheld (UK), who delivered the hydraulic cylinders and work supports for the final bespoke, fixturing solution. The total stainless construction raised several challenges for Brown & Holmes during manufacture but also required Roemheld to re-design a number of clamping elements from its ‘standard’ product range and create one-off specials, due to the unusual material requirements.

The finished application met all end user needs requirements and is in production today.

For more information on Brown & Holmes, visit www.brownandholmes.co.uk or telephone 01827 63591. To find out more about Roemheld, visit www.roemheld.co.uk or telephone 01462 459052.