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Beryllium Copper meets Bathing Beauty

ITC Tooling : 17 November, 2004  (Application Story)
Armitage Shanks, renowned for its stylish, high quality and up-to-the-minute bathroom ware, is in parternship with ITC Tooling
Mention bathrooms and Armitage Shanks is one of the first names that springs to mind. A key global player in the design and manufacture of precision non - ferrous castings for domestic and industrial applications - including bathroom and sink taps and shower heads the company is design driven. Industrial Tooling corporation , manufacturers of custom carbide cutting solutions has developed a range of extended reach cutters to deal with the beryllium copper that Armitage Shanks use for producing the tooling dies.

Dave Stacey, leader of Armitage Shanks tool room - CNC machining facility says the development and manufacture of the new cutters - which are used on Mazak SJV and Fadal Matchmaker vertical machining centres - means that Armitage can now easily produce the wide range of taps and and other fittings as well as supplying special designs to order. Says Stacey: 'Our casting batch size can vary from a few dozen to several thousand - with each design requiring its own tooling. The majority of our casting dies are produced from 1.8% beryllium copper into which the molten brass is poured directly. While the inclusion of beryllium makes the copper very hard and capable of withstanding thousands of casting cycles the downside it is highly abrasive and more difficult to machine than most stainless steels.'

ITC cutting geometry includes a reinforce area behind the cutting edge which produces a clean curl chip form - with no tearing, a major problem when machining beryllium copper. By relief grinding behind the flute the possibility of gouging is also eliminated.

With any die, surface finish is critical, so Armitage needs to achieve this without resorting to additional polishing operations. Stacey adds: 'We typically rough out during the day and leave the machines to run unmanned overnight or even over the weekend. The new ITC cutters have proven themselves time and again running for 20 hours or more non - stop. We now use the same cutters to generate the tooling for the sand cores which create the internal water ways which are located in the casting dies.'
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