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Putting the ‘metal to the pedal’

Carbon neutral bicycle part manufacturer invests in a Haas VM-3 vertical mould-making machine

Posted on 02 Nov 2020 and read 546 times
Putting the ‘metal to the pedal’Launching a brand new company in the middle of a pandemic is not the simplest of challenges, but that is the task bicycle parts manufacturer Pembree’s Phil Law set himself. His first product, entirely self-designed, is the R1V bicycle pedal and was unveiled in August 2020. The pedal has been a challenge in the making for over 20 years.

Building his first bike aged 17, Mr Law was frustrated that he couldn’t assemble the whole thing from UK made components — from here the seed was sown.

Sustainability and transparency are at the forefront of the Pembree ethos which describes itself as a ‘carbon neutral bicycle component manufacturer’. The pedal is 100% recyclable and the company’s factory, in Heathfield, East Sussex, is powered by solar and wind.

Mr Law is also entirely open about where his materials are sourced and his components are manufactured. He said: “It’s very important to me to have full control of my products. I know where all the materials come from and I know the names of the people making the parts I outsource — of course, I manufacture most things in-house.”

Mr Law wanted a CNC machine in his factory from the beginning. He shopped around and also asked the advice of some former engineering colleagues who recommended Haas. As a result, he opted for a Haas VM-3 vertical mould-making machine with 12,000rpm spindle, 30+1 side mount tool changer and a five-axis trunnion unit.

Virtual training session

He said: “I’m a product designer and this is my first CNC, but the Haas control is so simple, I can do everything I need to. The machine was installed right before lockdown so the on-site training didn’t happen as planned but Haas could not have been been more helpful.

“The machine tool manufacturer organised a virtual training session where I picked up the basics to get things up-and-running. Then — when allowed — the engineer came to the factory and gave some more in-depth guidance.

“The abundance of information Haas provides is really comprehensive. I watch a lot of the online ‘Tips and Tricks’ videos. Special mention also has to go to Don Cole, our Haas regional sales manager, who has been exceptional throughout the process.”

PedalMr Law continued: “I use Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD/CAM package for my designs. It works seamlessly with Haas and the VM-3 is a brilliant machine; the five-axis capability has paid for itself already. As I am the only person on the factory floor — I don’t have time to keep moving metal.

The R1V pedal can be made in two operations; that makes a massive difference to the efficiency of my day.

The pedal comes with a full five-year warranty, which is why it is made with very high-quality materials and bearings.

No carbon fibre or plastics are used, making the parts 100% recyclable. Working with charity TEMWA, the R1V pedal has a certificate of conformity to prove it is carbon-neutral and a tree is planted for every set of pedals made.

Mr Law added: “Relationships with riders is key for the future of Pembree; anyone can call me and speak directly to the person who designs everything. We will be using the Web site (www.pembree.com) and social media to keep everyone up to date on our products and the benefits of the environmental activities we are involved in.”

He has also set up a programme for local schools to visit the factory to learn about design and manufacture. “Children need access to technology now. They need to see how ideas are brought to life and they will get to use the Haas machine while they are here — I want to break down barriers to show kids how simple this technology is to operate.

“The next twelve months will be very important to Pembree. I have three more products ready to roll; I really want to get the message out there and Haas are helping me achieve those goals. They have got the solutions and provided me with the support to move the company forward.”