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Metal Spinners Group saves time and money with 3M abrasives

VISTAGY : 27 June, 2006  (New Product)
Global innovation company 3M, together with Distribution Partner SAL, has helped Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based Metal Spinners Group Ltd to achieve dramatic time and materials savings during finishing processes with the latest 3M abrasives.
Metal Spinners Group, as its name suggests, specialises in the use of metal spinning processes to produce high precision, rotationally symmetric components in steel, aluminium and exotic alloys for a diverse range of sectors including aerospace and medical engineering.

Metal Spinners Group's project with 3M has covered finishing applications across three sites, involving tens of thousands of components every year. In a joint project with the company's abrasive materials supplier SAL, specialists from 3M Abrasive Systems examined the range of finishing processes to identify areas where cost savings and productivity improvements could be achieved.

The results were striking. 'By switching to some of the latest 3M abrasive products, we were able to cut process time and eliminate whole finishing steps. At the same time, we were able to reduce our consumption of abrasives and maintain the high standards of surface finish that our customers demand,' explains Tony Dale, planning manager at Metal Spinners Group.

Among the new products adopted were 3M's very high performance 985C Fibre Discs, which have been developed for applications requiring high stock removal rates in the welding and metal fabrication sectors. Effective with both stainless and mild steels, the new 985C Fibre Disc removes metal up to 50 per cent faster and lasts up to three times longer than conventional discs.

The 985C Fibre Disc contains 3M's Cubitron ceramic abrasive mineral combined with a grinding aid to enhance heat removal while working difficult materials like stainless steel. The robust vulcanised fibre disc and advanced 3M resins used to bond the abrasives to the disc help to maximise disc life in the most aggressive high pressure grinding applications.

3M's Steve Richert was responsible for the trials of the 985C discs at Metal Spinners Group. 'Very high performance discs like 985C do cost a little more per disc than simpler products, so it is important to look at the overall process costs,' he explains. 'We carried out trials on several processes to compare the 985C discs with the products already in use. In one case we were able to reduce processing time from six minutes to five and obtain twice the number of parts per disc. That not only saves money, it is better for the operators as the shorter grinding times reduce their exposure to hand-arm vibration.'

Overall, says Richert, the adoption of 3M products across three trial processes at Metal Spinners Group has delivered a wide range of benefits. 'While it's important that our products save money and improve productivity, the fact that they are easier to use and deliver a consistent repeatable result makes them very popular with operators. Then there are the other benefits that come with reducing your consumption of abrasive products, like a reduction in downtime for belt changes and lower waste disposal costs.'

'3M worked very effectively alongside our abrasives supplier to demonstrate major process benefits,' concludes Tony Dale. 'With the support of the 3M technical team we are now examining other areas where we can achieve savings and productivity improvements.'
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