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Specialist bespoke metal fabrication requires specialist bespoke silicone rubber mouldings

Bespoke rubber mouldings for masking and other applications in low volume  fabrications.

There are thousands of companies producing low volume metal fabrications for specialist applications in vehicles. This isn’t just specific to motor vehicles either. The UK is not only a leading exported of motor vehicles but also aerospace, defence, shipping and other modes of transport. Trains are also produced in the UK.

The UK has always been famous for pioneering design and bespoke solutions. Whether its military conversions on vehicles, emergency vehicles or any other short production run such as motorsport, the UK is world renowned for design and bespoke manufacturing.

For manufacturers and sub contractors, the processes on short production runs can be very similar to large volume production. The main difference being that the big robotic production lines aren’t often used in low volume manufacturing, but that in its self is why the UK is so different. There are thousands of small engineering firms across the UK producing bespoke assemblies for defence, aerospace, motorsport and specialist vehicles.

By the very nature of bespoke and limited run, masking can also take on a need for bespoke applications. AFAC has over the years produced a wide variety of custom silicone rubber mouldings for these niche industries.

Case study of bespoke silicone rubber mouldings for low volume metal fabrication work

For one customer, when the military were still using Land Rovers as a principle vehicle, they were installing a radio rack into the rear of the vehicle. It was a simple design of a plate with oval holes reamed out of it to allow adjustment of the radio.

The problem was that the bolts and washers used to fix the radio to the plate were also the earthing points. As a result, an area around each oval hole needed masking to allow for the movement that had been built into the design.

Using the BAKEWELL Silicone Rubber TUGPLUG as a basis for the design, we created an oval section and then added a “washer” into the design with a sealing lip around the edge for quality of finish. The first design was prototyped and worked perfectly.

Tooling is relatively inexpensive and the production run was only a matter of a few hundred items.

The Outcome

Satisfied customer and problem solved.

Working on limited volume fabrications and have a need for custom rubber mouldings or extrusions? Get in touch right now on 0845 094 0522

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Precision masking metal castings during finishing processes.

Rubber mouldings used in the production of metal castings.

Metal castings are central parts of engines and transmission that require precision masking. At the very least there will often be threaded holes, bores or spade connectors that need to be kept free from contamination. There are thousands of stock parts already available to cater for most requirements. Parts requiring greater precision may have more bespoke masking needs.

Preventing metal coatings from entering threaded holes, bores and contaminating spade connecters is an essential part of producing quality metal castings. Failure to mask effectively causes unnecessary rework costing time and money. Using silicone rubber masking devices to improve production quality and reduce costs is a sensible option.

The same silicone rubber devices are perfect for masking in anodising processes. Anodising applications are commonly machined parts requiring surfaces to be process free.

It’s also common to use gaskets when connecting castings to each other or other metal ancilliaries where there is fuel, lubricant or gas flow to maintain efficiency. Depending on the application, it may be a different type of rubber more suited to this kind of task and AFAC has found that Viton has the necessary qualities to resist oils and petrochemicals that can cause other rubbers to degrade.

AFAC has been supplying masking devices for castings in all kinds of applications including automotive, aerospace, rail and defence for years and in more recent years, AFAC has supplied viton mouldings to a wide range of engine and generator manufacturers.

Should you need rubber mouldings, standard or bespoke, silicone rubber or viton, get in touch right away on 0845 094 0993


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Protecting and masking delicate precision metalwork during media blasting

How to protect and mask delicate precision metalwork during media blasting processes in aerospace applications

One aspect of the work we do at AFAC is to be problem solvers on behalf of our clients. Of course, more often than not a client knows exactly which product they need and our role is simply to fulfill the order. But occasionally a customer will come to us and explain a particular problem they have—and in these cases it’s down to us to configure a solution.

We recently had a situation like this that certainly required some ingenuity on our part to solve.

Our client in this case was a well-known manufacturer of aircraft engines, low-emission power systems for ships, road and rail vehicles and electrical generators. The company approached AFAC because they were facing a particular problem in the maintenance of their aircraft engines. They had discovered that when some of the engines would come in for maintenance, there would be paint peeling off them in certain areas. Given that these are still new engines that would be going out to very prestigious clients, the company decided that they needed to address the problem.

One task of the maintenance team is to strip the coatings from the affected parts and then recoat them. They use a media blast to strip away the original coating, but they were finding the powder they were using for the media blasting was distorting the metalwork. This was making it impossible to satisfactorily refit the pieces to the engines.

The company came to us and explained the issue. We came up with a solid mask to reinforce the metalwork from behind while it was being blasted. As a result the integrity of the shape was maintained and the metalwork remained in a condition suitable for recoating and refitting to the engines, representing a significant money saving for the manufacturer.

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Creating bespoke silicone rubber moulding for manufacturing case study

Bespoke Silicone Rubber Moulding

Case Study: Creating a bespoke silicone rubber moulding to speed up manufacturing

Sometimes, when a client comes to us with a unique problem that needs solving, we create a bespoke silicone rubber moulding for them. Then, having created a solution to the problem, we realise that there may be other customers facing the same problem. The result? A new product line available to all our clients.

This scenario is precisely what happened when we were approached by an international client who had a finishing problem. The company in question is a leader in secondary power distribution solutions with an outstanding pedigree. The business specialises in high-performance medium voltage switchgear for industrial, utility and commercial applications. Incredibly, they have more than 100 years’ experience in enabling the safe and reliable distribution of energy all over the world.

The problem they consulted us about was this: they were looking for a cap that would protect the threaded ends of studs during media blasting to remove oxides and scale from their steel assembly. The cap would also need to act as a mask during electro-static powder coating. However, the caps they were using couldn’t withstand the punishment of shot blasting.

It was time for the AFAC team to step in. We designed a beefed-up version of the T-Cap. It has heavier walls and it doesn’t have the lip feature that the standard caps have. The reason for omitting this is that the blasting process is so fierce it tends to blast the cap completely off the stud. The resulting design for the new cap has increased wall thickness, no lip and a modified top flange to withstand the strain of being pulled off. As an extra precaution, the bore of the cap has also been reduced to give an increased friction fit—a further measure to help it remain in place during blasting.

The result was a winner! The new cap is able to withstand the rigours of blasting and the customer has requested a range of similar caps to use with different sizes and lengths of studs. These robust caps are now also available to our other customers. So one client’s problem resulted in all our clients gaining a new product!