When Dudley-based Alloy Heat Treatment (AHT – www.alloyheat.co.uk
) was established in 1974, it was the first UK company dedicated to the heat treatment of aluminium alloys.
Moreover, it has continually expanded its facilities, invested in the best available heat treatment plant and increased its workforce.
AHT now operates 19 furnaces and can heat-treat a wide variety of aluminium products, from sheet metal components to large sand castings (and ranging in weight from just a few grams to over 2.5 tonnes).
The NADCAP- and AS 9100-accredited business has achieved ‘preferred supplier’ status with many aerospace ‘primes’ and has developed long-term relationships with companies such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus.
AHT has also assisted many automotive Tier One and other suppliers in their adoption of aluminium for lightweight engine and suspension components.
The company also has a strong presence in the motor-sport sector and works with teams such as Mercedes and McLaren; and to complement its heat-treatment processes, it also offers services such as solvent degreasing and dye-penetrant flaw detection.
Because unwanted distortions can occur in intricate aluminium products after rapid cooling from the quenching process, the company has a ‘setting’ department to remove distortion in the treated condition, while products remain ductile.
To increase the capabilities of this department and speed up its important work, a Quantum E ScanArm was recently purchased from Rugby-based Faro Technologies UK Ltd (www.faro.com
AHT director Ian Perks said: “As a vital aspect of our strict quality regime, we perform regular internal audits to ensure that we continually comply with the requirements of AS 9100:Rev D (BS EN 9100:2018) incorporating BS EN ISO 9001:2015.
We also use the data generated by our audits as the basis for making improvements to our quality management system.
“In addition to frequently investing in the best-possible heat treatment plant, we also regularly update our material-testing and dimensional quality control equipment, and we had been considering a ScanArm-type device for some time.
“With an increasing workload, we committed to placing an order, and after considering several Faro models, we chose the Quantum E ScanArm due to its speed, ease of use and accuracy specification — plus the fact that it is resistant to the ingress of dust and fluids and can be used in a working environment.” Staff training
Mr Perks added: “As this is our first Faro ScanArm, we sent two of our operators on a training course, which enabled them to quickly pick up the fundamentals of the equipment and its software. With our new ScanArm now in daily use, our two trained staff members have become competent in its use, and they will soon be training a further five members of staff.
“A vitally important aspect of our services is the capability to remove distortion from components after the quenching process, thereby ensuring that they will machine successfully. In addition to improving our precision in this area, our new Quantum E has considerably speeded up the setting process.”
When the option of a Faro Laser Line Probe option is attached to a FaroArm, it becomes a ScanArm capable of delivering up to 600,000 metrology points per sec.
AHT specified a Quantum E ScanArm fitted with a Prizm colour laser line probe — ‘the world’s only colour probe of its type designed for use with portable measurement arms’.
Furthermore, given the need to occasionally perform measurement and scanning routines at various locations within AHT’s sizeable facility, it helps that the Quantum E ScanArm is readily portable and fast to set up.
In addition, the use of dual hot-swappable batteries supports prolonged cable-free operation, enabling the device to be used for an extended period without the need for external power, while advanced electronics allow the gathered data to be transmitted wirelessly and at high speed from anywhere within the factory.
In conclusion, Mr Perks said: “So successful has our use of the new ScanArm been that we anticipate a much quicker return on investment than we originally anticipated, particularly as we have found numerous other uses for it across our entire site in addition to the measurement and scanning tasks we purchased it for.
“Indeed, we are now looking to offer an efficient scanning service to customers not using our heat treatment services.”