Brisbane toolmakers are obsessed with precision
Brisbane has established a reputation as a centre of excellence in toolmaking.
The QLD capital boasts local tradesmen with knowledge and experience that is respected throughout the country.
The region’s toolmaking companies have equipped their workshops with precision machines and ancillary equipment that enables them to provide a comprehensive range of engineering services to manufacturing and other industries.
Brisbane is Australia’s third most populous city, has a thriving port and an international airport, and is geographically well-positioned to provide services to such large industries as agriculture/horticulture, mining, marine, and the state’s tourism infrastructure.
It benefits hugely, of course, from being the state capital.
With turnover exceeding $40 billion annually, exports of nearly $10 billion and a workforce exceeding 180,000, QLD’s manufacturing sector remains healthy. Brisbane is the only region in Australia where manufacturing is expected to grow in employment and output over the next 20 years.
The QLD Manufacturing Institute supports and promotes the sector through R&D and training.
CAD, CAM, and CNC
Marco Engineering was established in 1978 and has grown progressively to become one of QLD’s and Australia’s leading toolmaking and plastic injection moulding facilities. Operating from purpose-built premises in Crestmead, about 27km from the centre of Brisbane, it offers a comprehensive range of services to plastic injection-moulded product users, from component design assistance, through design finalisation, tool design, tooling manufacture, and plastic injection-moulded component production.
Using advanced computer facilities and CAD software, 3D component models can be developed, viewed three-dimensionally on computer screen, and printed to hard copy. Alternatively, design staff can receive component design work already captured on computer disk by customers or their design consultants. Detailed design drawings are printed for customer review and consideration before any toolmaking activities begin.
The company’s modern workshops in Titanium Court boast an extensive range of machine tools and ancillary equipment, including a Joemars EDM and a sophisticated CNC-controlled YCM machining centre – both supplied by the Brisbane branch of 600 Machine Tools. These extensive toolroom facilities also are utilised by Marco’s rollform and light engineering division.
Investing in precision
Based at Acacia Ridge – 23km south-west of Brisbane – Hi-tech Tooling specialises in design, tooling, and precision manufacturing.
General manager Richard Tovey said: “We have a passion for what we do, and accept nothing but the highest quality, being the first toolmaking company in Australia to be awarded quality assurance certification.”
The company is currently accredited to ISO 9001:2008.
This progressive company has several machines in its workshops that have been supplied by 600 Machine Tools, including a Joemars spark-eroder, Joemars wirecut, and a Joemars hole-starter, along with a high-speed Robodrill.
The CNC-controlled erosion and wire-cut machines are capable of performing complex cavity work, often found in tooling needed by the plastics industry.
Even in the face of tough economic conditions, Hi-tech has grown at 15 percent a year for the past three years.
Over the past 27 years, the company has rapidly expanded to a workforce of 25 employees, including skilled design draughtspersons, programmers, and tradespeople. It is equally committed to training apprentices.
Flexibility for toolmakers
The QLD representative of Sydney-based 600 Machine Tools, Wally Nugent, said: “As the exclusive agent in Australia for Fanuc Robodrills, we were able to configure these machines specifically for the type of specialised jobs undertaken by toolmakers.”
He explained how a Robodrill could produce time-savings by eliminating post-machining processes.
“We sell these versatile machines with a special Toolmaker package that is just great for 3D work, offering 24,000 rpm spindle, data server, A1 contour control II, look ahead block expansion, and other features.
“You will not find this package on our website, he added. “It’s something we put together with Fanuc in Australia.
“Even running at a spindle-speed of 21,000 rpm, the fineness of the cut eliminates most of the polishing processes needed on such work pieces as close-tolerance moulds for the plastics industry.”