Collaboration and investment lead to growth

Cork firm set to launch own medical-implant technology

Posted on 20 Apr 2019 and read 550 times
Collaboration and investment lead to growthWhen brothers Victor and Finbarr Twohig established T&T Precision back in 1996, it was in a rented barn no bigger than their current reception area, and its equipment consisted of a manual lathe, a mill, a surface grinder and a die-sink EDM machine.

The early days were centred around the electronics sector plus mould-and-die work, but with the influx of medical-device OEM companies into Ireland (especially in the local area around Cork), business rapidly grew in that area too.

Several relocations have been undertaken by T&T due to subsequent growth, the most recent being the move to its own 32,000ft2 Engineering Campus in 2014 (supported by Enterprise Ireland and the AIB bank).

Investment has been at the heart of the company’s success, with some 12 new machine tools installed in the past two years, including five-axis machining centres and multi-axis turning centres.

The medical and aerospace sectors currently account for 90% of T&T’s turnover, and its customers include Boston Scientific, Stryker and Thompson Aerospace.

In addition to undertaking prototype and batch production for these customers, the company provides a design and development service, with five full-time design engineers working on customer projects.

The two brothers are also proud of their partnerships with Cork Institute of Technology, the University of Limerick and Enterprise Ireland, where they are working together on projects from mould tooling through to material development and industry 4.0, with the goal of producing their own patented medical-implant technology this year.

To support its investment in capital equipment, the business has also invested in employee training, software and cutting-tool technology — the latter by working closely with Ceratizit UK & Ireland (www.ceratizit.com) and its WNT range of tooling.

Victor Twohig said: “With the arrival of these new machines, we needed to maximise their performance, so we have worked closely with Ceratizit UK & Ireland to develop new machining strategies — particularly trochoidal milling and the use of its high-feed cutters.

“Every new machine we have is tooled up with WNT tooling, and the two businesses have grown alongside each other since we started working together in 2006.”

Between them Ceratizit UK & Ireland’s technical sales engineer Jerry Warren and applications engineer Shane O’Donnell are on-site virtually once a week at T&T to provide assistance where needed and ensure that everything is in order, including restocking the two vending machines with tooling.

Finbarr Twohig said: “We work with customers from the very early stages of their product development, so it is good to have the expertise of Jerry and Shane on-hand to look at the initial tooling requirements, and when we come to production volumes, we work together to target improved cycle times and tool life.

“This is becoming ever more important as we increase our involvement with the aerospace sector, because we have to be competitive to win and retain business.

“For us to achieve our goals in terms of business growth, our prices to customers have to be reduced, but we also need to remain profitable, so we work hard with our suppliers such as Ceratizit UK & Ireland.

“There is no hiding, particularly in aerospace; if you can make it quicker and for less, you’ll win the business.”

With turnover at T&T growing by over 100% in the past three years, the spend on cutting tools has increased.

Part of Ceratizit UK & Ireland’s remit is to manage that spend by introducing improved tooling that keeps the tooling budget under control and in many instances reduces the cost.

Mr Warren said: “We have to strike a balance between improved productivity and ensuring that tooling costs remain at an acceptable level for all our customers.

“The role Shane and myself play is to make things work better by ensuring that the right tools are being used in each application.

“The reporting from the vending machines assists in this as we can monitor usage closely across all of the shifts operated at T&T Precision, while achieving the right balance between performance and cost.”

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