Craftsman Tools Wins Innovate UK Grant for Intelligent Tool-Holding

Craftsman Tools have been awarded a grant by the UK’s Innovative Agency (Innovate UK) to develop intelligent tool-holding for metal-cutting machine tools, in partnership with the University of Huddersfield.

Craftsman Tools Ltd is a multi-award winning UK precision engineering company specialising in innovative solutions for tool-holding, work-holding and supply chain management services and solutions.

The partnership, with funding from Innovate UK, seeks to create new intelligent tool-holding by incorporating “internet of things” (IoT) sensing technology with dynamic models, enabling the prediction of surface finish during machining, and the ability to bore a hole with a greater length-to-diameter ratio,  combating challenges facing many industries, including Aerospace.

This project not only aspires to improve the productivity of the end-users, launching a series of new innovations from the tool-holding suppliers, but also to benefit the environment and increase education; the end products should reduce drilling time by 10%, in turn reducing energy waste, and Craftsman Tools award winning apprentice school will provide valuable insight to students at University Training Collage Leeds, respectively.

Since 80% of Craftsman’s tool-holding is sold worldwide, the results of the grant shall be advantageous to UK manufacturing as a whole, with Craftsman Tools at the forefront of global tool-holding solutions.

The two partners: Craftsman Tools and The University of Huddersfield, have the skills and expertise to cover all aspects of this collaborative project. Craftsman Tools shall provide the mechanical expertise with the University of Huddersfield supplying the censoring technology, modelling and analytical knowledge.

In addition to their vast mechanical knowledge, Craftsman Tools are approved suppliers of tool-holding for several major tooling manufacturers, with extensive resources and a highly skilled work force. These qualities make Craftsman Tools the national best to lead this technically demanding project. They will concentrate on the concept and optimised mechanical designs and will provide vital information to guide the requirements for sensors and analytics and lead the cutting trials. The only process not available in house are heat-treating and coating, which can be easily accessed from their existing suppliers.

Collaborating with the University of Huddersfield to develop intelligent tool-holding.

The department at the University of Huddersfield has a long track record of industrial-based projects. They will provide the expertise in the sensor technology, modelling and analytics. The team have developed machining models for the milling process, which will be modified in this project for predicting the surface finish from the boring process. They have also been working for many years on embedding sensors and instruments on machine tools.  The University has well-equipped electronics and communications laboratories and their own CNC workshop with four research-dedicated machine tools. They also have the necessary metrology tools for testing and practically evaluating the tool-holding applications and supporting the cutting trials.

The partners have previously worked together on a very successful KTP (2009-2011) which established on-machine probing to enable lights-out production. It is anticipated that this project will cement the relationship with new personnel within both the company and the University. It is anticipated that this project will lead to Craftsman engaging closely with the “EPSRC Future Advanced Metrology Hub”, hosted at the University of Huddersfield. This will give them access to other research areas, which they can use to expand and help direct their future innovations and lead to a further KTP.