A servo-electric CNC turret punch press built by Yawei-Nisshinbo has raised productivity dramatically at the Cannock factory of Weldall Architectural Fabrications, a subcontractor best known for its high-end work in the building industry. Supplied by sole agent, Tamworth-based Press & Shear, the machine cost considerably less than equivalent models on the market and was the first of its type to be installed in the UK, following its certification for use in Europe.

Incorporating technology from the world’s premium turret punch press manufacturer, Nisshinbo, Yawei turret punch presses are manufactured using high quality components from Japan and Germany. The company produces some 3,000 machine tools per year at its 160,000 m2 facility in Jiangsu Province, China.

Specialisation in architectural fabrication

Established in May 1988, Weldall is jointly owned by Andy O’Farrell and Alan Blower. The company originally specialised in welding exotic materials such as titanium, nickel alloys and stainless steels for diverse industries including oil, gas, defence, cryogenics, nuclear and medical.

Early work in 1992 centred on producing prototypes for the BR90 project, a family of bridges built from aluminium alloy for the British Army. During this period, the fabricator was subcontracting out its sheet metalworking but decided to bring it in-house, installing its first press brake and guillotine following the acquisition of a supplier.

By the time the BR90 project was phased out in the late 1990s, Weldall had been planning for the transition and had entered the building and architectural sectors. Work in these industries continued side-by-side with other general fabrication projects.

Andy O’Farrell commented, “We are now best known for this work, particularly the manufacture of high quality fabrications, bracketry and aluminium flashings for curtain walling, at competitive prices in short lead-times.”

Over the past six years, the founders’ sons, Matt O’Farrell, Gareth O’Farrell and Ryan Blower have all joined the company. The family-run firm set about increasing its architectural business, which resulted in a succession of prestigious contracts.

An early success was supplying the builders of Quebec House, a development of 252 one- and two-bedroom units in Kingston-upon-Thames, with 2 mm gauge aluminium pods to finish each of the windows.

Other significant projects undertaken included a weather beater wall for Guy’s Hospital in London, new aluminium detail for the upgrade to the pier in Weston-Super-Mare and window feature reveals for the Hilton hotel at Heathrow airport’s terminal five.

A change of turret punch press

During this time, Weldall was using a six-station CNC turret punch press. As it was equipped with a manual tool change carousel, a lot of operator intervention was needed and non-productive time was high. The requirements for higher pressworking productivity as well as increased capacity to process sheets longer than 2.5 metres led the subcontractor to look around for a replacement machine.

Mr O’Farrell continued, “The Yawei-Nisshinbo servo-electric punch press was the obvious choice due to its high specification and competitive price. We have dealt with the UK and Ireland distributor, Press & Shear, for many years and they have always provided excellent after-sales support.

“The use of thick turret tooling means that we will be able to produce accurate components on the machine for many years to come. Additionally, the optional 5 metre length capacity of the brush table is more than enough for our needs, as we have standardised on 4 metre by 1.5 metre sheet.”

Since it was installed in November 2014, the Yawei-Nisshinbo HPE-3058 punch press has fulfilled numerous contracts at the Cannock factory. Three sporting venues, the training ground at Chelsea FC and rugby union clubs Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, have been refurbished using the subcontractor’s components.

A recently completed job was the production of a 12 metre long lion logo for the wall of Birmingham University. It was designed in SolidWorks 3D CAD and produced in sections from 3 mm J57S anodising quality aluminium prior to being anodised and attached to the front of the university building.

Nearly six million 5.5 mm-diameter holes have been punched through 2 mm stainless steel for the production of engine intake louvres to protect military vehicles used in UN peace keeping missions. A special punch and die set was sourced from Wilson Tool complete with the addition of Optima Coating on the punch, which greatly extends tool life by increasing the hardness of the tool to 95 Rockwell.

A current project is feature panel manufacture for student accommodation in the Eastside Locks area of central Birmingham, a further on-going job requiring the manufacture of over 1,000 feature grilles from 3 mm aluminium.

Ryan Blower concluded, “Our use of the new punch press coupled with purchase of Jetcam software, also through Press & Shear, has resulted in an increase in productivity.

“The parts we manufacture are more accurate, so our customers do not have to worry about on-site fit-up, improving their productivity as well.

“As a consequence, we have been able to win a lot of new business as well as retain existing customers and we have seen a rise in the company’s annual turnover.”

Weldall is currently being assessed for compliance with EN 1090 Parts 2 & 3, the European standards that regulate the fabrication and assembly of steel and aluminium structures for the construction industry, and hopes that this will be in place in early 2016.

More about the Yawei-Nisshinbo HPE-3048 servo-electric punch press

Weighing 16 tonnes, the multi-axis CNC machine has a Nisshinbo-manufactured turret with 36 stations for thick turret tooling, although alternative configurations are available. The servo-driven ram has a nominal force of 300 kN, allowing holes up to 88.9 mm to be punched. Turret indexing speed is 30 rpm and Nisshinbo’s patented ‘Keeping-touch’ auto index system is included. The use of wheel-type tools, taps and multi tools is supported.

The brush table accommodates sheet up to 5 metres by 1.5 metres with one reposition, traverse speed being up to 102 m/min. Maximum sheet thicknesses that can be processed are 6.35 mm for carbon steel, 4 mm for stainless steel. Hit rate is up to 1,500 strokes per minute and accuracy of punched features is ± 0.1 mm.

Standard equipment includes a Siemens CNC control, brush tables, three work clamps and soft punch. Options such as multi tools and a load/unload system are also available.