Tuesday, October 27, 2015

News: MTL's strength in defence

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Rotherham-based manufacturing specialist, MTL Advanced is thinking a little differently when it comes to the defence manufacturing industry and is pioneering new manufacturing techniques on different materials.

Earlier this year, the Lancashire-based WEC Group, which comprises 14 companies specialising in welding and fabrication, brought the company out of administration, saving 135 jobs.

The Brinsworth site houses state of the art equipment and dedicated teams of engineers working on projects for clients such as BAE Systems, Rheinmetall, and General Dynamics, working in close partnership to produce critical parts for military applications.

Specialists in armour plate, MTL developed new technology to give armoured vehicle manufacturers a lower cost, cold formed solution as an alternative to hot formed armour.

The company works with quenched and tempered steels and stocks tonnes of armour plate, specialising in blast floors and ballistic armour, and is now replicating its techniques with aluminium.

Building on the expertise in forming steel armour plate and working alongside a major aluminium armour plate producer, MTL has developed a reliable and repeatable cold forming process, which can potentially change the design and manufacture of aluminium land system platforms in the future.

The firm's "SMARTbend" process enables the forming of armoured steel and armoured aluminium up to 60mm thick and allows MTL to identify areas in the design to bend instead of weld. A wide range of CNC press braking equipment means that MTL is capable of pressing components up to 7.2m wide. An Ursviken 640 tonne CNC press brake has a 600 Kg capacity robotic handling system - the largest installation of its kind in the world.

A spokesperson for MTL said: "Aluminium armour materials were never developed with intent to be cold formed, and so intrinsically pose challenges to avoid common modes of failure such as cracking. We have created a reliable and repeatable cold forming process, backed by scientific and engineering validation. We have pushed our current forming technology to its limits, and the integrity of parts produced are validated using innovative and standardised methods of material testing to assure optimum material resilience.

"Our overall aim is to enable designers to remove large sections of weld from the overall vehicle structure and reduce piece part count. By reducing the weld, the structure is stronger and more robust, better protecting vehicle occupants and reducing platform production costs."

Process development and optimisation to cold form 90° bends, with and across the grain, has seen the experts move on to test more difficult materials. Carrying out laboratory tests, MTL expects to release its findings by the end of 2015.

The spokesperson added: "We are confident of repeating the success of our formed steel armour plate, for which MTL is well known, further changing the defence industry and the applications of armoured aluminium."

MTL Advanced website

Images: MTL Advanced

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