Meltech Ltd, based near Cambridge and Wolverhampton, has built a successful business around the design and refurbishment of electric induction heating and melting furnaces for the foundry industry, but the introduction of new European regulations regarding Electromagnetic Field Emissions resulted in a shift for the company to start designing new equipment.
“We have a lot of expertise in furnace technology” said joint Managing Director Neil Moore. “We wanted to use our industry skills and experience to create enhanced performing furnaces through clever, innovative design. Ultimately, we knew we had to change from our 2D based Turbo CAD system as complexity and quantity of parts in the final assembly would increase”.
Meltech looked at Rhino and TurboCAD 3D, but both systems seemed clunky and cumbersome to use, while SOLIDWORKS looked like it would fit the bill, allowing them to create new furnace designs whilst smoothly transitioning from 2D based drawing to 3D design. The sale of a new furnace for Estonia with tight deadlines meant the designs had to be completed very quickly, so training and ease of learning became critical factors in making a decision to purchase SOLIDWORKS.
It was clear that the improved visualisation was immediately having an impact, enabling any potential design errors to be trapped early in the design process. With the added pressure of time and committed delivery dates looming, Meltech needed to avoid the cost and time delays due associated with re-work, a common occurrence with TurboCAD.
A Mag-Melt Furnace typically involves the lifting of up to 1,500 Kg of molten metal, and so there were question marks about the new design’s capability to carry the additional weight of the molten charge. A hydraulic tilt mechanism pivots the furnace body during operation; failure of the pivots would be catastrophic so SOLIDWORKS Simulation was used to quickly identify the ‘worst case’ pivot angle.
At this position, the mechanism was tested in more detail to see the stress distribution in the pivot pins. It was important to confirm that there was no yielding. This mechanism is bolted to the furnace body, and the loading on these bolts needed to be calculated. The Simulation Bolt Check Plot, which clearly shows green bolts as passing and red as failing, but also calculates all the components of load on the bolts. Using this information, it was possible to quickly identify that shear was the primary load condition. This helped in the specification of the correct size bolt in each location, to withstand the high shear loading.
“With our very first project using SOLIDWORKS, we are already seeing the benefits” said Neil “The first major project was completed on time within a three month period. All production drawings together with exploded views for service manuals and parts lists were completed, which was usually a separate operation for another member of the team. The training delivered by Innova Systems helped me do things correctly and already, we are seeing a return on investment.”
“We are delighted to see that even within a very short time, Meltech are seeing the excellent results. Sometimes, making a change from 2D can be challenging, but SOLIDWORKS proves time and time again that significant benefits can be achieved very quickly. We are delighted to be a partner of Meltech and wish them every success for the future” said Innova Systems Managing Director, Mark Bradford.