WNT UK Ltd
Back in 1985 Ian Weatherill and Simon Sharp had little idea that the Instant Precision Company, their fledgling toolmaking business, would develop into a world leader in cycle aftermarket parts. But a change of name and direction in 1989 saw Hope Technology born and the rest as they say is history.
The move to begin manufacturing parts for cycles came from Ian and Simon’s own enthusiasm for the new sport of mountain biking, and in 1989 they developed the first disc brake for their own bikes. Seeing the huge potential market for these products they developed the idea and also began manufacturing other cycle related components, such as front wheel hubs. Interest and sales grew to such a level that in 2000 production at Hope Technology shifted completely to the manufacture of cycle parts with brakes, headset, stems, bottom brackets and lights all being added to the growing portfolio.
Hope Technology now employs over 100 people producing between 80,000 and 100,000 parts per week using the latest in machine tool technology. Its factory in Barnoldswick houses 55 CNC machine tools that operate 24/7 as well as all of the other services that it needs, with Hope Technology being proud of the fact that once the raw material is delivered, every other manufacturing process is carried out in-house. This attitude gives it total control over schedules and more importantly, quality, with the original toolmakers mentality of precision and attention to detail still strongly in evidence. Even bike testing is carried out in-house, with every member of staff being responsible in part for R&D, as they all are given a bike equipped with Hope Technology equipment, with regular group rides organised in the surrounding area and on the purpose built tracks behind the factory to gather data on new products.
To back up this production Hope Technology has a long-standing relationship with WNT (UK) for the supply of cutting tools “We have worked with WNT for many years in part due a to a common interest in cycling among each company’s employees, but also because of the quality and service that we get from them. Every time we look at a new tool from WNT we gain in terms of productivity over any other tool that we may have been using and as a result we now tend to view WNT as the first option when it comes to cutting tools, as their range covers more applications and the service, delivery and support is excellent. To be able to get cutting tools delivered from Germany the next morning is just what we need as you never know when you will need something urgently,” says Lindley Pate, Hope Technology’s Works and Production Manager.
An example of this growing reliance on WNT came when Hope Technology recently purchased a Nakamura Tome WY-100 twin-spindle, gantry-loaded, turning centre to machine a range of forged aluminium wheel hubs. These parts had been machined on another machine using a ‘mish-mash’ of tools from various suppliers. The decision with the new machine was to hand responsibility for tooling over to WNT completely. The result is that Lindley Pate reports a significant improvement in performance in terms of tool life and quality and the security of cutting edges gives him the confidence to run lights out and unmanned on this machine.
All of the WNT tools used on this project have polished and ground geometries to enhance the surface finish on the aluminium components, which then go on to machine polishing prior to anodising. Turning and boring operations are carried out using DCGT style insert at 4000 revs/min and 0.07 mm /rev on the finishing cuts. For the grooving operation WNT is using a full radius 3mm wide insert at 3500 revs/min and 0.1 mm/rev, with the end milling operation making use of a solid carbide end mill running at 4000 revs/min and 1000 mm/min feedrates. The cutting data has been moderated due to a risk of movement of the workpiece in the chuck, but even with that parts are being finished machined in half the cycle time that was previously achieved. A major factor in this is the consistency of the WNT inserts and tools.
“This was an important project for Hope Technology as hubs are high volume production for us so consistent production is vital. Quality is also a major issue, we are machining bearing diameters to microns as the parts are designed for servicing by customers, who therefore need interchangeability of parts, they don’t want trial and error while repairing a bike out in the field. The success of the WNT tools on this project gives us further impetus to continue the gradual switch to 100 per cent WNT tooling in the future on all of our machines. This will provide greater consistency across the entire production of parts, we will be able to make reductions in cutting tool stocks with the same tools used on several machines as well as the comfort of the next day delivery, and we will also gain from machine operators having a greater familiarity with tooling given the flexible way we work, with one operator able to work on multiple machines, rather than the one man, one machine approach,” says Lindley Pate.