Pneumatic air tools
ATA Air Tools (ATA) manufactures and distributes pneumatic air tools to over 50 countries for major industries including the aerospace and automotive sectors. A previous Innovation Voucher project completed with the PEM Gateway led to two important developments for ATA. The first of these was the optimisation of a turbine design for a new air motor which “proved invaluable in the design” of that tool. Optimisation was achieved through a review of the existing design, leading to a Computer Aid Design (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis of identified modifications and the 3D printing of these components for prototype testing.
The second development was an introduction to the product development company Zenoz Ltd. Resulting from the ATA Innovation Voucher, Zenoz was tasked with both design projects and as a component manufacturing sub-contractor for ATA. This introduction, and the success of the components manufactured by Zenoz, has developed into a mutually beneficial and longstanding business arrangement for both ATA and Zenoz. In 2018, being familiar with PEM’s precision engineering expertise, Zenoz applied for an Innovation Voucher with the Gateway to investigate the mechanical properties of a material Zenoz and ATA were considering for a new product and wanted to compare against existing materials used.
The Zenoz/ATA & PEM partnership
PEM undertook a literature review to determine the optimum way to test unique aspects of the materials in question. Following this, PEM used IT Sligo’s Materials Testing and Analysis Lab to carry out a series of tests, which also included hardness testing. The results of the tests were presented to Zenoz and ATA with insight given on the suitability of the material ATA hoped to use for their new product. Because of this work, Zenoz and ATA were confident that the new material would meet their performance criteria and this allowed ATA to develop a lighter air tool.
ATA was then able to sell this product into a new market and had the necessary experimental results to reinforce their performance claims for it. In conjunction with the material analysis carried out by PEM, ATA ran their normal in-house and end-user tests to prove the quality of the modified product. The experimental results from PEM will prove invaluable when ATA are introducing their product to a wider market base in the future.
“ATA in conjunction with our manufacturing partner Zenoz Ltd recently used the PEM centre to conduct material and surface hardness analysis of one of our most high precision components. The reason for carrying out this analysis was twofold, firstly to test an alternative material and hardness treatment against our traditional methods and secondly to compare our sample components against similar components already in the market place. The resulting report produced by PEM made comparisons with both and has given us the confidence to move forward with an alternative to our traditional methods. This has the advantage of reducing the overall weight of our assembly as well as reducing the production costs. Without the comparative analysis produced by PEM we would have had to undertake extended end-user test therefore delaying this project considerably.”
“It was great to work with the PEM Gateway and utilise their research expertise, capabilities and facilities. Having an independent party verify the approach we took with ATA to develop an alternative production method for their new device allowed us to quickly progress its implementation in their manufacture.”
The Technology Gateway Network delivers innovation expertise to industry across Ireland. It is run by Enterprise Ireland in partnership with the Institutes of Technology.
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