William Whiteley’s have been collaborating with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Sheffield University to develop the next generation of shears for composite fabrics.
This has involved developing unique coatings and improved shear designs that offer a number of critical properties required to enhance the performance and cutting life of the shear, with financial support from a NAMTEC / Yorkshire Forward capacity-building project on surface engineering.
Development and evaluation work carried out by Prof Allan Matthews and Dr Adrian Leyland at the University, has allowed them to specify and provide selected high-performance ceramic coatings for trials on William Whiteleys existing shear designs. In-field testing of these coated shears by the company, together with electron microscope evaluation by the University, has helped streamline the blade manufacturing route and in fine-tune the design for optimum coating performance in specific applications.
During trials it has been reconfirmed that cross-usage of the shears between different fibre types and weaves can dramatically shorten blade life in some instances; to counter this William Whiteleys has introduced several variants to the Wilkinson Composite range to complement the most commonly used materials. The new range continues the principle of using coated blade surfaces with a very low coefficient of friction whilst also incorporating significantly enhanced surface hardness to ensure maximum working life.
Initial preproduction trials in industry have provided very positive feedback (with a several-fold improvement in performance seen in some cases); the company is now about to start running comparison trials with existing products whilst the Sheffield University team continues to provide underpinning technical expertise and data to support the evolution of new shear designs.
Recent investment in laser marking technology has also enabled the company to provide permanent product identification for the first time including specific material descriptions and coding to ensure fail-safe shear selection in different cutting applications.
The company will also be launching an e-commerce website in the New Year with these product expected to be added to the range by late January.
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