OXFORD UNIVERSITY STUDENTS VISIT
Materials science students from the University of Oxford were recently welcomed at our Birmingham headquarters for a factory tour and fact finding visit.
The group of 30 students are all studying degree courses within the Department of Materials at Oxford and was organised by the Post-Doctoral Research Associate for the faculty.
A full factory tour demonstrated the production process of Tufnol laminates from start to finish. This included viewing the impregnation towers where the resins and reinforcements are combined together to produce prepreg before it is moved to the main press shop and converted into standard forms. Students were able to learn how the sheets are produced in sizes of up to 200mm thick, as well as the process of tube and rod rolling and the moulding section.
The tour then moved onto Tufnol’s machine shops to see how standard product is converted into the finished machined product. This demonstrated the various stages of conversion and the methods used to achieve this, including sawing, thicknessing, shaping, turning and use of the very latest CNC machining techniques.
Our Managing Director, Roy Thomason, said: “We were delighted to welcome the students from the University of Oxford to our factory, who were all very enthusiastic during their visit.
“Our factory is unique to the UK in that no other company has a facility like ours. It includes manufacturing from scratch, from prepreg production through to the standard product, through to fully finished machined components - all taking place under one roof.
“We know how important the development of the next generation of materials scientists and engineers is, not only for our industry, but also for UK manufacturing as a whole and always try and get involved wherever we can to help with the education process.”
Dr Lewys Jones FRMS, said: “Our students thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Tufnol and found it to be extremely informative and useful for their related courses. While classroom study is important, we appreciate the support of industry helping us show our students real life production techniques in action. This on-site industrial exposure is invaluable for those interested in a career in materials science or engineering.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH TUFNOL
The grandson of a former Tufnol Composites employee has returned to the UK from Australia for a period of work experience
More than half a century has passed since Gerry Matthews, a former employee of Tufnol Composites, set off for a new life ‘down under’ and today his grandson is in the UK for a period of work experience with the Birmingham based composites specialist.
Chris Matthews hails from Adelaide, South Australia, and works for C.E.& A. Pty Ltd, the company that Gerry founded, and are the distributors for Tufnol products in Australia today. A conversation between Roy Thomason, Managing Director of Tufnol Composites, and current C.E.& A. MD Phillip Matthews led to the work experience trip coming about.
Chris says: “I was keen to gain the experience of working for a larger, manufacturing organisation and to get more knowledge about the processes and composition of composite materials. I believe this will be a huge advantage for me when I return to work for C.E.& A. back home and will benefit my understanding of the product’s potential applications. My time here with Tufnol will go a long way to achieving these goals.
Roy Thomason said: “This is a great story of a former Tufnol employee who not only made a significant contribution to our organisation here in the UK, but also was instrumental in establishing our company’s products in the Australian market. C.E.& A. is a highly respected name, not only in the marine industry, but in the defence and mining sectors of Australia.
“It’s very sad that Gerry is no longer with us having passed away in 2014, as he had so many great stories to tell about our company and its influence on the burgeoning high tech world of the 1950s and 60s. However, it is great to have the latest generation of the Matthews family with us for some experience of a UK manufacturing company.
It is also really good to know that Phillip and Chris are committed to continuing the tradition of close association with Tufnol, which we hope will remain for many years to come.”
TUFNOL COMPOSITES INVESTS IN LATEST TESTING TECHNOLOGY
Tufnol Composites has recently invested in the latest testing equipment for its manufacturing base in Birmingham.
The new machine is a precision universal tester from Shimadzu and is the latest addition to the company's in-house testing laboratories.
Specialist on site training was provided to the Tufnol team who will be using the equipment for a wide range of testing criteria. This covers mechanical tests for all laminates produced to international standards including flexural, tensile and compressive strength. Other available testing options include shear and inter-laminar strength.
In-house testing is an important element of our service to customers many of whom request bespoke testing and data for their specific individual needs.
This new equipment means we can expand and improve our service offer and the investment underlines our commitment to meeting and indeed exceeding customer's requirements for high quality testing and data provision.
TUFNOL COMPOSITES SPONSORS DURHAM UNIVERSITY SOLAR CAR PROJECT
Tufnol Composites is supporting Durham University’s Electric Motorsport (DUEM) team by becoming a sponsor of their solar car development project.
Tufnol Composites will be supplying the School of Engineering & Computer Science with high performance industrial laminates that can be used for a variety of applications on the development vehicle.
DUEM is the longest running solar car team in the UK. Established in 2002, it is at the very forefront of innovation in the design, manufacture and racing of solar cars. This student team has just returned from competing in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2015 - a 3,000 km solar marathon across Australia. More than 50 students take the project from concept right through to the race track.
Toby McBride, Head of Business at DUEM, said: DUEM is at the very forefront of innovation in designing, building and racing solar cars. After a 3,000 km marathon race across across Australia last year, and with big plans for 2016 and beyond, we contacted Tufnol Composites to enhance our existing in-wheel motor design. The Tufnol material supplied is used for high temperature insulators within the stator of the brushless DC motor. It provides the very backbone of the motor - a critical part on the car. We are delighted with the incredible support Tufnol have provided us and look forward to an exciting future together."
Durham University Electric Motorsport will be at the London Motor Show, 5 - 8 May, at Battersea Park, as well as at the Science Museum from 26 - 28 July 2016.
TUFNOL PAIR CLOCK UP A CENTURY OF SERVICE
Two employees of Tufnol Composites are celebrating a milestone after completing 50 years of service each, a total of 100 years between them.
Maintenance fitter Dave Mann, born in Aston, Birmingham joined the company in August 1965 and Bob Copestake, an auto / capstan setter operator, also born in Birmingham joined Tufnol a few months after Dave in October 1965.
They have both served the Company tirelessly for an incredible half a century and have witnessed many changes
Roy Thomason, Managing Director of Tufnol Composites, said: “It is rare these days for employees to stay with one company for their whole career as nowadays people tend to move around much more frequently. This amazing achievement is also testament to the whole team here at Tufnol and we all congratulate Dave and Bob on this landmark anniversary and thank them for their invaluable service over the last 50 years.
Dave has decided that the time has come to put his tools away and see more of the world and will retire at Christmas 2015. Meanwhile Bob has no such plans and we are delighted that he intends to carry on working for the foreseeable future.”
TUFNOL HIGHLIGHTS MAJOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT
Part of a £400,000 investment programme to upgrade key plant and machinery to improve output capacity, Tufnol Composites has purchased a new state-of-the-art hydraulic press for its Birmingham based manufacturing facility.
The new machine is a six-daylight hydraulic sheet press that operates on the latest advanced technology within the composites industry. It has fully automated controls, which offers virtually infinite variable pressure settings and ‘curing’ temperatures of up to 2000 C.
Roy Thomason, Managing Director for Tufnol Composites, said: “As a company we pride ourselves on being a leading UK manufacturer and this significant investment further underlines our commitment to this. The new six-daylight sheet press not only increases our capacity but also ensures the continued high quality of our laminate range.
“In addition to enabling us to meet the continued strong demand for our high pressure laminates, we are also now very well positioned to meet the forecasted ‘ramp ups’ in our aerospace work and any new future requirements from our customers who operate in a wide range of sectors, including rail, construction and electrical.”
BIRMINGHAM NEW ST. REDEVELOPMENT UTILISES TUFNOL COMPONENTS
A unique cotton fabric reinforced laminate, manufactured by Tufnol Composites has been specified and installed by architectural engineers working on the redevelopment of New Street Station.
Tufnol Grade 2F/3/PTFE laminate has been specified for its combined properties of excellent mechanical strength, rigidity, toughness, machinability and low friction. It provides a simple and cost effective method to natural corrosion in steelwork by isolating dissimilar metals and preventing destructive, corrosion-inducing electrical currents from flowing.
Thanks to its inherent low friction characteristics, it also allows for ‘slippage’ due to expansion and contraction naturally caused by external environmental factors.
It is a composite that is also widely used in the railway industry as a high performance dry bearing material on rolling stock where non-contaminating, silent running, long-life bearings are required.
New Street Station is due to be completed in September 2015 and will provide a welcoming, spacious and easily accessible hub, located right in the centre of Birmingham. The project promises to bring major economic growth by creating new jobs and stimulating further regeneration.
“Birmingham New Street is the busiest railway station outside of London and I am absolutely delighted that we, a Birmingham-based manufacturer, have been able to assist with the engineering complexities of this iconic build,” explained Tufnol Managing Director, Roy Thomason.
Tufnol began manufacturing laminates more than 80 years ago. Thousands of new uses are still created every year and the company works with leading companies such as Bombardier Rail Control Solutions, London Underground, Rolls Royce and Airbus UK.
NEW USER FRIENDLY WEBSITE FOR TUFNOL COMPOSITES
Tufnol Composites has recently launched a new upgraded website to meet the evolving requirements of today’s customer.
The new Tufnol website is designed to be user friendly and aesthetically pleasing, but also retains key sector information for rail, marine, construction, electrical, aerospace, offshore and other industries. The site also offers a valuable information resource for engineers, designers and all users of Tufnol laminates.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the new website,” explained Tufnol Managing Director, Roy Thomason. “The existing website had done its job and was in need of updating. Our new website has been built with our existing and potential future customers in mind.
“It was vitally important that the new site stayed true to the heritage of the business, which we are very proud of. Equally, we had to clearly demonstrate our revised product range and highlight the key areas and sectors in which we currently operate as a successful 21st Century business.”
Roy Thomason continued: “The new site pays homage to our successful long-running products and even gives users the opportunity to view some of our previous marketing campaigns. However, more importantly our modern day business is clearly outlined and the site even has links to our social media channels."
Apprentice Investment Reward for Tufnol Composites
Tufnol Composites is reaping the significant rewards of the company’s decision to invest in the educational development of its apprentices.
In 2011 the company sponsored two young and enthusiastic West Midlands students to complete a manufacturing BTEC qualification at the EEF Apprentice and Skills Training Centre in Birmingham
Mark Bedington and Daniel Munge, then both aged 19, successfully completed the three-year course and are now qualified and in full-time employment at Tufnol’s Perry Barr site.
“Tufnol is keen to help develop the next generation of engineers, which will in turn support the wider long-term growth of the business,” explained Tufnol Managing Director, Roy Thomason.
“We are the UK’s leading manufacturer, machinist and stockist of high performance laminates, composites and engineering plastics and we have a loyal, specialised and highly skilled work force. Mark and Daniel are now an essential part of that team and are already adding significant value.”
Due to the overwhelming success of Tufnol’s pilot scheme, apprentice sponsorship is something that the company is already looking at repeating in the near future. This is likely to give further opportunity for young people from the region to secure long-term careers in manufacturing.