Wallwork Group, headquartered in Bury, Greater Manchester, UK, has announced it is establishing a £10 million, state-of-the-art Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) centre at its Bury site. Housed in a newly prepared 2500 m2 facility, the first of the new HIP machines is expected to be fully operational in September 2023.
“As the UK’s premier independent heat treatment, vacuum brazing and advanced ultra-hard coatings company, this is a significant expansion of Wallwork’s thermal processing services and is part of a commitment to invest £20 million over the next five years,” stated director, Simeon Collins. “It cements our position as the UK one-stop shop for component manufacturers. All secondary processes are easily accessible on this site or another Wallwork site and backed by our national pickup/delivery transport fleet.”
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James Bailey and David Loughlin are reportedly heading the new Wallwork HIP Centre, along with Andy Day in sales. Loughlin will be joining the company in the new role of HIP Business Manager, having extensive experience in managing a HIP facility in Europe.
“The demand for HIP is growing quickly, in part driven by the leaps forward in Additive Manufacturing technology,” Loughlin explained. “HIP is extremely efficient at removing the porosity from AM parts made from metal powders – this densification process is often the only way for AM builds to fulfil their safety critical potential. With the Quintus URC system to reduce cycle times and high-pressure capability, we are set to meet customer demand and expectations in these developing areas. Compared to the US and Europe, the UK has been lagging behind in HIP capacity. This investment, and those planned by Wallwork, will go a long way to rectify that. In addition to Wallwork’s focus on quality, service and value added, I’m looking forward to developing some new relationships for the company.”
Quintus Technologies are currently completing the installation of the first of Wallwork’s HIP machines. Quintus has over 2000 systems working worldwide in industries including aerospace, energy, medical implants, space, automotive, Additive Manufacturing, Powder Metallurgy, castings and food processing.
Bailey added, “The Quintus Technologies’ HIP operates at pressures from 40 to 207 MPa (5,800 to 30,000 psi) and temperatures up to 1250°C. The new unit being installed has the latest technology capable of rapid cooling and also the ability to increase cycle pressures to aid with new engineering advances particular in Additive Manufacturing. This requires some major engineering and civil works, hence the high investment we need to make to enter this growing market. The ability to improve material fatigue properties, ductility, structural integrity and fracture toughness applies to AM, castings, forgings and subtractive engineered components. Components with complex geometries can also be processed to near-net shape, saving customers additional machining steps and therefore cost.”
The design phase for the new HIP centre began during the pandemic and presented many unforeseen challenges for Wallwork and the team at Quintus Technologies. “This has forged a solid working relationship and gives us great confidence in their support for the technology going forward as we continue to invest,” Collins added. “As the Bury site is already the largest single-site UK heat treating facility with an aerospace scope covering nine Nadcap check sheets, we expect to be adding new certifications and approvals for HIP as quickly as possible. We also have a dedicated online customer portal in development that will aid load scheduling.”
As well as its Bury facility, the company also has sites in Cambridge, Birmingham and Newcastle.