The installation of an S-series system supplied by CNC Robotics at ASCO Engineering means that the company can now offer a wider range of machining, coating and repair processes. The addition of a robot-based solution for laser-metal deposition and hard facing cladding also known as laser cladding means that CNC Robotics has extended the range of manufacturing techniques used at ASCO. Andy Deegan, Chairman at ASCO believes that the system has made their company more versatile than any equivalent supplier in Europe.
Based in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and with a second site in Dubai, ASCO offers a comprehensive service incorporating CNC precision machining, fabrication, surface coating, diamond grinding and superfinishing repair technologies. As well as having an extensive machine shop equipped with CNC lathes and machining centres. The site includes specialist coating equipment, including unique systems specifically designed for the company’s processes. All manufacturing at the company is supported by an in-house metallurgical laboratory for testing coatings to international standards. Furthermore, CNC coordinates measuring machines for dimensional inspection ensuring precision components can be certified to be within microns.
The ability to work with very complex shapes is supported by the flexibility of the robot cell. The robot offers six-axis movement, while specially designed work holding adds a further three axes, giving the potential for nine-axis operation. In addition, a novel head can be fitted to allow the internal cladding of bores up to 2 metres in length and down to 55 mm bore size.
Andy Deegan, Chairman of ASCO Engineering, had used robots in the company’s thermal spray booths for several years and recognised the advantages in repeatability and consistent quality that they offered. With the high levels of dust and noise in the booths, they also offered health and safety benefits. However, he felt extra support would be needed to develop the new process.
While the new system has been used predominately for adding coatings to new parts, it has also proved valuable in component repair. For these projects, repair material is typically laid down in layers of up to 1 mm per pass and then ground back to give the final surface. Dependant on clients requirements ASCO are, in reality, able to clad to any thickness.
The main benefit of the new system is the consistency of the results. Many of the coating materials used at ASCO Engineering are very expensive blends that are needed to give the necessary corrosion resistance and wear resistance. Many of the parts made by the company are used in demanding applications. For example, the oil and gas and power generation, mining and aircraft industries where any failures can lead to costly losses in production.
“The robot system is at its best when we are working with batches of parts,” claimed Andy Deegan. “We can process the first part, confirm that it is dimensionally accurate and carry out full laboratory checks on the surface integrity. Once we know we have set the correct parameters for the first part, we can rely on the repeatability of the robot to ensure that the rest of the batch will be equally good.”