IFAtech Ltd are a South Yorkshire based SME company with knowledge and expertise in the welding and machining of advanced metal alloys which are notoriously difficult to process.
IFAtech Ltd was established in 2004, primarily to support the parent company, Sheffield based Independent Forging and Alloys Ltd. IFA Ltd are one of Europe's largest open die forging, ring rolling and precision bar forging companies and have been very successful in consolidating and expanding their capacities and capabilities, including the purchase of a precision rotary forging machine. Initially, the support provided by IFAtech involved the high quality weld repair of worn forging and press tools and the subsequent machining to precise dimensions and tolerances, which is essential to enable cost effective production of the accurate forged components needed to supply into the Aerospace and Oil and Gas market sectors. Since then, the business has developed with the purchase of additional machine tools, enabling the attraction of manufacture and repair work from outside the parent company.
The weld repair of forge and press tools involves the deposition of a number of layers of wear and heat resistant nickel alloy material onto the surface of the forging tool to resist the damage caused by the highly abrasive forging process. The consumable used for repair of the surface layers is currently supplied in the form of nickel alloy rod and is deposited onto the forging tool using the Tungsten Inert Gas deposition process. It is a highly alloyed material which is difficult and very expensive to produce as rod.
IFAtech Ltd decided to investigate alternative methods for producing the rod and in combination with TWI and the Rapid Manufacturing Programme (RAMP) funded by Yorkshire Forward and Objective1, located a UK company that could make rod by using a continuous casting method. This removed the need for further processing of the rod as it could be cast directly from the melting crucible in the appropriate diameter. Additionally, because of the nature of the manufacturing process, it was possible to use high grade scrap nickel alloys as the feedstock material. The use of scrap material was a critical feature in enabling the production of cost-effective consumables for the repair process.
With assistance from funding provided by the RAMP programme, an initial batch of nickel alloy rod was produced using the continuous casting process. This was then used by IFAtech Ltd to rebuild a series of press and forging tools for Independent Forging and Alloys Ltd. These proved to be very successful, the particular grade of nickel alloy giving enhanced wear properties over previous materials.
The support provided was made possible through the Rapid Manufacturing Capacity Building Programme (RAMP), funded by Yorkshire Forward and the European Union through the Objective 1 Programme.