It is LCM’s 30th anniversary next year, as another year passes by we reflect on how processes are evolving and changing in the manufacturing industry.
Our technicians, engineers and operators are always working together to look at new innovative ways to improve processes onsite and meet changing demands.
One tool which helps our experts to plan ahead of a melt and design more accurately is the design toolbox, Solidworks.
Having this facility in-house has allowed LCM to make necessary changes quickly and accurately as the software has the ability to model solutions and see what interaction they will have with existing equipment, and fine-tune them for future production.
Process Support Technician, Jonathan Price says “The benefit of Solidworks is that it allows us to see issues we may overlook in an assembled enclosed piece of hardware, giving us valuable precise information for current and future improvements.
This has allowed me to produce technical designs and drawings for LCM and set a standard in many of the parts and equipment used in our day to day processes. In addition it has allowed LCM to produce bespoke engineering solutions to critical processes through collaboration with technical and engineering staff.”
Recently LCM has both improved and developed new mould designs to refine processes onsite to assist the customers’ end needs across various applications. Before customers receive their bespoke alloys, every product is analysed in the onsite laboratory which has also seen significant development.
In order to maintain high standards LCM is undergoing replacement of and additions to the laboratory equipment. The latest piece of kit we have updated is the state-of-the-art ICP-OES (Inductively Coupled Plasma optical emission spectrometry). This machine enables the analytical technique to detect chemical elements in alloys. It is used for major component quantification as well as trace element analysis. In terms of trace analysis, the new instrument and all the advanced features that come along with it have been incredibly useful in overcoming some of the unique analytical challenges presented by the rare earth elements.
Senior Analytical Chemist, George Thomas highlights the benefits of the new ICP equipment.
“It has improved our analysis across all aspects, it is quicker, has lower detection limits, it is easier to operate, easier to deconvolute spectral interferences and has more analytical line availability.
Another hardware instrument which has been a great addition is one which we have created ourselves. The thickness meter helps us to measure the thickness of NdFeB flake which is required for our customers niche applications. The device has an automated thickness measurement which saves us a lot of time. This is important as LCM is constantly looking to meet new customer demands so development trials are regularly being taken on for alloys we have never melted before.”
These features have resulted in improved limits of detection for many trace elements, better repeatability in many cases and faster analysis time. This means the laboratory is now able to process more samples per day at a higher-level accuracy and precision.