All Tufcot® composite materials are manufactured on site at our extensive factory in Sheffield, UK.
The process department is the start of the Tufcot material cycle. Split into two sections, it encompasses the tube or rod manufacturing section and the sheet laminating section.
The process starts with a formulation created by Tufcot’s R and D department. These formulations relate to the specific material grades.
Each material grade is comprised of a thermosetting resin system; we have several to suit the many varied application to which the material is suited. The resin can incorporate solid lubricant additives such as: Graphite, PTFE or Molybdenum Di Sulphide.
Reinforcing fibres are chosen to enhance the properties of the material. Again, a number of reinforcing materials are available; the choice of fibre used would be application specific.
A very large range of standard mandrel sizes are available to accommodate our customer requirements. Custom sizes can be quickly and economically produced for special applications.
Once the tubes or rods are produced, they go through an initial curing process (green phase). After the allocated amount of time, they can be easily handled to move on to a post cure process in a large temperature controlled curing oven.
Once cured, the tubes/rods are ready to be machined or are ready for shipment if the customer has ordered raw material tubes.
Process Department – Laminating
Laminating follows the initial same procedure, using the same formulations as the tube and rod production section.
However, this doesn’t use a mandrel. Instead, it involves a layup process with a certain number of layers of reinforcing fabric. This is impregnated with the specific resin formulation to suit the required thickness, width and length for a finished laminate.
Once the fabric is laid up to the required size and thickness, it’s then put into one of our hydraulic laminating presses. The laminate is compressed to a set size, which also completes the initial curing (green phase).
The laminate is post cured, the same as the tubes in the curing oven.
Once the tubes or rods have been post cured, they can then be removed and are ready for the next phase of machining.
Due to the manufacturing process, the Tufcot® tubes have a resin rich outer surface finish.
The initial process is to trim the ends of the tube and remove this surface. The tube is either ground on our centreless belt grinder, or machined on a centre lathe to the required O/D and I/D if necessary, ready for dispatch to the customer.
Where finish machined components are required, the tubes can go to either our CNC or Manual Machining section for further machining into finished rings, bushes or other products.
Laminate Preparation – Sawing and Sanding
Once the laminates have been post cured, they are then ready to prepare.
Where a customer requires sheets or smaller pads, the sawing & sanding department trim and sand the laminate to the customers required dimensions. Once the laminates are prepared, they can be shipped to the customer.
If further machining is required, they are ready to be passed to the next department. Here, they are machined on one of our CNC milling machines or processed on our CNC router.
Strip material is also produced in the sawing and sanding department. Tufcot produces 1000’s of metres of strip every year.
The raw material laminates are cut into the desired widths and lengths using a special cutting machine.
Our manual machine department has a current capacity to machine up to 2 metre diameter tubes into finished bushes, bearings or rings as required.
Although we have quite a significant capacity and a good range of machines, we have identified a need to extend this capability further. Because of this, we will be adding further larger machining capability to this important department.
A great deal of the tubes produced go to our CNC department. Finished parts can be quickly and accurately programmed on our Fanuc controlled Doosan CNCs. They can be machined to either our production drawings or the customers own drawing specifications.
Tufcot has more than 10 CNCs which cover all areas of the machine capabilities, allowing us to use up to 164mm diameter tubes down the headstock. Even larger diameters of up to 800mm can be accommodated when the tube is held in the chuck.
Utilising bar feeds on some of our CNCs allows these machine to run independently for large batch production runs. This gives Tufcot the potential to operate a 24 hour manufacturing operation if the workload requires this.
The finished parts that are often machined from this process include: flanged bushes, wear rings, bearings, spherical bearings and specially designed parts to the customers’ requirements.
CNC Milling & Routing
This involves Tufcot’s CNC Machining Centres, Milling Machines and a recently purchased large bed CNC router.
A capacity of over 3 metre length and 1.5 metre width allow the raw material sheet or laminate to be machined into wear pads, wear strips guide strips, bearing blocks, washers or even structural bearings.
These parts typically include holes, grooves and/or special machined features that can be quickly completed on these machines.
After the parts have been machined, to ensure any machining flash has been removed, we have a number of deburring machines.
This process cleans the edges and removes any flash; creating a more polished, professional finish.
Once the finished parts have been completed within the relevant sections of the machine shop, they then move onto the inspection department. The inspection department is a temperature controlled environment where the finished parts are inspected by our experienced inspectors, before being passed to the packing department.
Our inspection room contains a CMM measuring machine, allowing us to accurately record measurements. It also contains externally calibrated inspection equipment, micrometres and Vernier’s to cover all sizes.
Tufcot can offer 3.1 test certificates. If needed, our sales team can provide prices for 3.2 certification when necessary.
This department is crucial as it’s the final stage where the goods are dimensionally checked. It also helps to ensure the necessary quality control of goods so they meet both our internal standards, along with our customers’. Tufcot prides itself on our high standard and excellent quality materials.
The final stage of the Tufcot services and departments is the dispatch area.
This is a large working area where we prepare boxes, pallets and other forms of packaging. We work with our customers to find the most cost efficient ways of packing their goods to reduce costs and waste.
On Time Deliveries
Since 2013, Tufcot has aimed to consistently improve our on-time delivery performance figures via improving our production department and reducing inefficiencies through the whole company.
On-time delivery performance has improved from 57% in 2013 to 98% in 2016. This a remarkable feat when you have to compare the increased workload since 2013.
Tufcot is very proud to publish these figures, as it shows the progress of the company over the last few years. This has included numerous investments into new machinery, production techniques and better operations management control.