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Lentus Composites installs rising star machining centre

News International-French

20 Jan 2017

For machining pattern board, aluminium mould tools and components made from composite materials, Eynsham-based Lentus Composites has installed a Sahos Dynamic bridge-type machining centre with a 5-metre X-axis.

Lentus Composites installs rising star machining centre

Built in the Czech Republic by Blue Ray, the 5-axis machine was delivered and commissioned in March 2016 by sole UK agent, Asquith Butler.

Simon Odling, managing director of Lentus commented:

“There are a number of high-speed machining centres on the market, mainly of European origin, that are directly applicable to production in the composites industry. We chose the Sahos Dynamic for a number of reasons. In particular, we felt that the construction of the machine when compared to its competitors was an improvement on the industry norm, providing a stiffer, more stable machining environment."

Sahos Dynamic bridge-type machining centre:

“In addition, we specified direct measurement in all axes including the 5-axis head. These provide absolute feedback and minimise time-consuming maintenance and down-time associated with aligning the axes, as well as providing significantly improved positional repeatability. Having tested the market with other local machine users, we received positive feedback from other Sahos machine owners in our sector. The consensus was that this Czech manufacturer is not as well known in the UK as other brands but is a rising star in the industry.”

Lentus is in the ascendant as well. Part of Polar Technology Management Group, it is located on Polar’s 16-acre site in Eynsham that has planning permission to be developed into a large technology campus within the next few years. Lentus was established as recently as February 2014 by Polar partners Scott Roberts and Mike Dewhirst and is managed by Mr Odling and technical director Paul Lewis. Lentus was formed initially to supply composite products for superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners manufactured in the UK.

The following year, the firm achieved a £2.6 million turnover with 35 staff and has more than doubled the size of its business in 2016 through diversification into industrial, marine, aerospace and automotive applications. Lentus regularly develops and manufactures new composite products for the motorsport sector, from GT and World Rally to Formula 1, as well as for high performance car and electric vehicle producers.

Part of last year’s success was also down to winning a partnership contract with Cervélo to design, manufacture and test frames for bikes, ridden with great success in track events at the Rio Olympics. The ultra-stiff, laminated carbon fibre frames were machined to close tolerances on the Sahos Dynamic. To improve the performance of the bikes further, Lentus designed and manufactured other weight-saving composite and metallic components.

The rationale for the Sahos machine’s purchase was to further develop Lentus’ vertical integration, as the ability to deliver the complete supply chain solution, often in compressed timescales, was important. There were already two turn-mill lathes and a mill-turn machining centre with a carbon management package on site, all of which continue to be used, but a dedicated, large-capacity machining facility was needed for composite components and the manufacture of patterns from tool boards.

Lentus has grown rapidly and machining is still split between in-house and sub-contract capacity. Internal capacity on the Sahos machine is used for critical products and short-lead-time projects.

In 2017, a target industry for Lentus will be aerospace, underpinned by legacy experience of the directors in the sector and the company’s participation at the Farnborough Airshow 2016. High speed rotating shaft components made from composites is one area of development and a major contract is imminent.

5 Dec 2012

Machining

The machining of composite materials requires specific tools and know-how. It is due to the intrinsic physical properties of the materials but also to the many aluminium, titanium or steel inserts...