Committing to spend £750,000 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic last year proved to be an inspired move by Suffolk-based Wrightform
, as its new ARKU Flatmaster 88-200 sheet metal ‘flattening’ machine is providing added value to its sub-contract metal forming business and opening up new opportunities.
While the initial lockdown in 2020 had a short-term impact on its business, Wrightform as a supplier to key industry sectors such as medical, food and transport recovered strongly and posted its best year ever for turnover.
This combination of business confidence and the company directors’ attitude to adding value to its services saw it place the order for the ARKU Flatmaster. One of only two machines of its kind in the UK and the only one available on a sub-contract basis, the machine is solving a major issue for customers that require consistently flat parts or are making use of automation in secondary welding and assembly operations with parts manufactured by Wrightform.
Weighing in at 47,000kg, the machine has 16 alternating steel rollers that combine to deform sheet material up to 2m in width and from as little as 180mm up to any length and sheet thickness between for materials as thin as 1.5mm up to a maximum thickness of 28mm.
Passing the sheet through the first set of rollers eliminates its elastic memory, the subsequent rollers then flatten the sheet and stress relieve it to ensure a perfectly flat component ready for secondary operations.
Wrightform director Ken Rose said: “Bowed components are a major problem for some customers, especially those that are investing in more and more automation for their welding, forming and assembly.
“Traditionally there were two ways to overcome this bowing, use more expensive material with tighter tolerances or flatten parts manually with a press, which is both time-consuming and highly skilled work. The ARKU Flatmaster 88-200 eliminates both of those to generate consistently flat and stressed relieved parts, making downstream operations straightforward.” Product consistency
As a specialist sub-contract manufacturer of sheetmetal components Wrightform has gained a reputation as a technology leader, being the first to install a number of automated processes, with all of these investments aimed at adding value for its customers through a combination of improved quality, lead times and product consistency.
“We recognised that automation was becoming an increasing element of our customers’ businesses and they were placing increasing demands on us as a supplier. The impact so far of the ARKU Flatmaster system is that it is performing as expected and impacting on how we can support our customers.
“We see it has having massive potential for business growth not only from existing customers, but also from those who we would not normally consider as typical Wrightform customers, such as other sheet metal manufacturers and OEMs using laser, presses and forming equipment, companies that are facing the same flatness issues that we went through but are unable justify this level of investment.”
Wrightform is now approaching its 20th anniversary and is unrecognisable from its early days, when it carried our sub-contract work across East Anglia with just a 4kW CO2
laser and a press brake.
With its reputation for quality growing, expansion quickly followed with a move to its current, purpose-built factory in Eye. From the outset the directors of the business had a policy of continuous investment in manufacturing technology, which has seen capacity grow to include high-speed laser profiling, multiple press brakes, polishing, deburring, fabrication, machining and surface treatment facilities. With customers nationwide it is now truly a one-stop-shop for precision sheetmetal manufacture.