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Metal and Plastic Blog

Metal and Plastic Blog

  • Garden Shed Engineers: What Can You Learn From Formula 1?

    Preseason testing for the next F1 season has just started. Lewis Hamilton
    destroyed his Mercedes, which had been newly unveiled just a few hours

    Lewis Hamilton's New Mercedes W05

    Only 4 cars actually produced a lap time during the first day of testing.
    Some of the biggest changes in F1 in decades have been introduced this
    season, which has made reliability a major concern for the F1 constructors.
    The engines have also lost a couple of cylinders, and added an energy recovery
    system in a bid to make the engines more efficient.

    Before the teams are starting to push the limits of performance they are
    ensuring that the fundamentals of the car are properly in place first.

    Even those at the cutting edge of manufacturing make sure they have the
    basics down first to give them the best chance of success in their project
    and you should too!

    Here's 3 key fundamentals, which you may have overlooked that you need
    to make sure are 100% correct to give yourself every chance of completing
    your machined parts for your project successfully...

    Make sure you're using the correct cutting fluid - use a thin cutting fluid like
    Parafin for machining aluminium and a think fatty cutting fluid for stainless

    Use the right speeds and feeds for the material, otherwise you run the risk
    of breaking your tool or burning it out. In generals, high speeds and feeds
    for ally and brass and a low speed and medium feed for stainless steel.

    When machining keep the material rigid, so that the material does not vibrate.
    If the material does vibrate, your tool life and finish on the material will go
    straight down the pan. Just make sure you're machining close to your tools.

    Hope that helps!

    Oliver O'Mahoney - Manufacturing the Word!

    PS - We've got a range of high quality measuring equipment to make sure
    you're components are within tolerances to be fit for purpose for your project

  • The biggest mistake hobby engineers make when machining brass rods

    Last night, I got back from watching a fantastic movie, American Hustle, starring Christian Bale, also known as...Batman.

    He gave a fantastic performance, and it was fun to see Bale transform himself from a burley, good looking man, with a herculean physique to into a an overweight, nothing-special-about-him, guy with a 70s comb over. Although his character had twice as much charisma as Bruce Wayne. If you haven't seen American Hustle, then I'd strongly recommend you get yourself down to your local cinema and watch it!

    What's this got to do with engineering? Well, Bale must have lost at least 15kgs of muscle from his arms, shoulders and chest and put it on round his midsection as fat. Bale is renowned for his crazy preparation for the roles he plays. Just type in Christian Bale Machinist (How ironic I mention his role in the machinist in this email, I hope to think he's not giving an accurate portrayal of a machinist in that movie. Any one who's seen it will no doubt agree with me.). And preparation really is the key to success...

    You need to make sure your machine, machine tools, drawings and materials are prepared meticulously before you start your project and any little advantage or shortcut you can get to make yourself MORE than prepared needs to be employed. So, here's a tip for keeping your lathe bed clean:-

    Attach a piece of newspaper to your cross slide with round magnets. When you've finished your machining, simply remove them with the swarf and hey presto your swarf is gone and your machine is still clean.

    Have fun if your machining today!

    Oliver O'Mahoney - Manufacturing The Word.  PS - Keep yourself prepared with the range of engineering machine tools we've just added to here:

  • Hopefully You Won't Have To Be Turning Down Stainless Steel Rods To Make Parts For This Alfa!

    You Shouldn't Have To Be Machining Stainless Steel Rods To Manufacture Components for This Alfa! You Shouldn't Have To Be Machining Stainless Steel Rods To Manufacture Components For This Alfa!

    The Alfa Romeo 4C could potentially be one of the most important cars of recent times. It marks a long awaited new beginning for the legendary petrol head’s brand. The 4C is a return Alfa’s of old.  For the last 20 years Alfa have been putting a beautiful skin on substandard Fiat platforms. Now we can finally see what a modern Alfa Romeo is meant to be…


    The modern Alfa is a mid-engine rear wheel drive sports car. Alfa carry on their tradition of of improving mainstream parts and encasing them in an elegant and beautiful design the 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged engine from the  Giulietta, recast in aluminium and put behind your head in the 4C. The turbos make this an extraordinarily torquey car giving 252 ft/lbs. Outputting 240BHP and with a dry weight of just 895kg gives it a larger power to weight ratio of it’s closest rival, the Porsche Cayman.


    The 4C is a tricky proposition for the Cayman. Alfa have played to their strengths by producing a car that provides a completely different experience to that of the Cayman. Whilst the Cayman is cool, calculating and all about 0s and 1s, the 4C is a stripped out, raw beast, whose sole purpose in life is to tug on your heartstrings and to inject a dose of adrenaline into your life every time you get inside her. Inside the Alfa is nowhere near as refined as the Cayman, but that all adds to the experience.


    Alfa have been so devoted to creating the lightweight, stripped out, almost supercar experience, that they have taken some of the most cutting edge technology straight from the supercar manufacturers and applied it to the 4C. It has the same type of carbon fiber monocoque that is in the likes of the McLaren MP4-12C. £200,000 super car technology for a £45,000 price tag.


    Going up against the Cayman, the 4C loses where you would expect her to. Although this sexy Italian has a double clutch gear box which shifts up in 130 milliseconds, it is no match for Porsche’s PDK gearbox, the unadulterated king of double clutches. And then it comes to the engine…waiting for the turbos to spool up creates some old school turbo lag which just can’t compare to the throttle response of the Caymans naturally aspirated 6 cylinder boxer engine.


    But is throttle response and gear changes what this car is really all about? In fact, I think what this car really needs is a manual gearbox. The 4C is all about the experience it gives you. Surely a manual gear change would add to the rawness and focus on driving experience.


    A large chunk of that experience is created from the moment you first lay your eyes on the car. The beautiful design, pays homage to it’s older brother the 8C and the rawness is telegraphed instantly by the controversially exposed carbon fiber headlights. Racing through the rev range, the car sounds like a 1950s Formula 1 car and the ignition cutting on gear shifts sounds feels like you’re in a rally car.


    The performance stats of the Alfa completely dismiss the notion that Alfa can not step and trade blows with the likes of Porsche in this arena. Top speed of 169MPS and 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, which incidentally is quicker than the 500BHP 5.0 supercharged V8 of the Jaguar XKR.


    The release of the 4C has seen Alfa do exactly what everyone has wanted them to do for the last 20 years. Create cars like they used to, that not only look stunning but are exciting to drive as well. With the brutal performance, raw, stripped out inside, beautiful outside and soundtrack to match, the 4C conjures and potent adrenaline boosting experience that is surely impossible to match for the price tag of £45,000.  You won’t get round the track as quick as your mate in the Cayman, but that’s never been why you buy an Alfa is it?

  • Metal Bar Supplier Covers McLaren P1

    I know this hasn't got a lot to do with stainless steel rods, but September brings us to our last instalment in our trilogy, introducing the new hyper-cars of this generation. Last but not least, is possible the most hotly anticipated of the three…The Mclaren P1.


    The P1 is the spiritual successor to what was once the fastest road car ever built, the iconic Mclaren F1.  The P1 has a slightly different goal to that of the P1, which was to the raise the performance bar of automobiles in terms of top speed. The ideology behind the design and production of the P1 is to produce the best driver’s car in the world, on the road and on the track. The car will retail at £866,000 and customer’s cars, of which 250 of the 375 have already been bought, are due to commence delivery in 2014.


    The Mclaren P1 is a plug-in hybrid mid engine supercar. Outputting 903 horsepower in total from a combination of a heavily modified twin-turbo 3.8L V8 used in the Mclaren 12C, outputting 727bhp and a KERS electric motor producing 127bhp. At 1400kgs P1 is 200kgs heavier than it’s older brother and eclipses the F1’s 618bhp power output.


    Whilst the P1’s engine output eclipses that of the F1, the P1 actually has a lower top speed than that of the F1. The P1 is electronically limited to just 217mph!

    A controversial point with the entire crop of new hyper-cars among petrol heads has been the purpose of manufacturing hybrid supercars. Greg Levine, McLaren Sales and Marketing Director states, “To achieve the levels of performance that we wanted, we needed either a big V12 engine or a high degree of technology. Big V12s aren’t practical in this day and age. Mclaren should be building cars of the future and the V12 is a thing of the past. McLaren will never build another car with more than 8 cylinders.”. The KERS system is an incredibly advanced system, producing 180hp compare to just 60hp in Jenson Button’s F1 car!


    The P1 is an incredibly aggressive looking car. Wide, low and dripping in carbon fiber – the car looks even more so impressive in the flesh, where you can really see the incredible attention to detail that has been paid to the design.


    Whilst the P1 does not match her predecessor in terms of top speed, all other performance figures of the car are mind-blowing. Hitting 0-62mph in less than 3 seconds, 0-124mph in less than 7 seconds and 0-186mph in 17 seconds. Bearing in mind that this car was never meant to be the fastest outright road car, hitting 186 just 2 seconds slower than that of the Bugatti Veyron SS and 124mph more than a third of a second faster, these are epic performance statistics.


    The car’s real forte is its Jekyll and Hide personality. To deliver the car’s highest performance possible, it must be put in race mode. This is nothing like the sport mode on your BMW 3 series, which makes the ride even more unbearable on those low profile tyres. Race mode in the P1 takes 40 seconds to complete, lowers the car by 50mm, roll stiffness increases by 350 percent and the effective spring rate doubles. The vast rear wing extends by 300mm and leans a further 29 degrees into the oncoming air. This process makes the car extremely responsive.


    The P1 is an extremely hotly anticipated car. How will it fair against the best Ferrari and Porsche have to offer in the forms of the LaFerrari and the Porsche? Is that the question we should be asking? Rather, how will the P1 fair compared to it’s predecessor? The P1 has got absolutely everything to make it an unadulterated success but whether , in the future, it will be considered worthy of uttering it in the same breath as the F1? Only time will tell.

  • Will we soon be selling rolled Graphene rather than Stainless Steel Rod? The Miracle Material

    Graphene has been touted as the "miracle material" of the 21st Century.

    Graphene is a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb, ‘chicken wire’ structure. It is the thinnest material known to man and yet is also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat. Graphene is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that even the smallest atom helium cannot pass through it.


    Graphene was stumbled across in 2010 as a result of two Russian scientists’ experiments, investigating the electrical properties of carbon graphite at the University of Manchester. Their findings eventually led the two scientists to win the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in Physics.


    Research establishes Graphene as the strongest material ever measured, some 200 times stronger than structural steel, and 500 times stronger than an average stainless steel rod.

    Graphene Sheet Graphene Sheet


    "It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of Graphene the thickness of cling film.”



    These properties mean that Graphene can be mixed with plastics such as epoxy to make composites that have good specific physical properties (i.e. strength per unit mass). Such Graphene-Plastic composites could be used to replace metals in the manufacture of aircraft and cars, making them lighter and more fuel-efficient. Graphene is also electrically conductive; this enables it to be added to plastics to make them conductive as well. Conductive plastics are needed in a multitude of industries, for example in the aerospace sector, to protect carbon fiber aircraft wings against lightning strikes and in the automotive sector prevent sparks from static electricity in the fuel lines and tanks of vehicles.


    The benefits to both businesses and consumers are obvious - faster and cheaper devices, which are thinner and flexible.


    The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone.


    You could theoretically roll up your iPhone and stick it behind your ear like a pencil



    • Integrated circuits and nano-electronics
    • Saturable Absorber for Ultrafast Pulsed Lasers
    • Single Molecule Sensors
    • Solar Cells


  • Round Metal Bar Buyers! Your Most Pressing 3D Printing Questions Answered!

    There are several technologies capable of 3D printing. The main differences concern how layers are built to create parts. SLS (selective laser sintering), FDM (fused deposition modeling) and SLA (stereolithograhpy) are the most widely used technologies for 3D printing. Selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) use melting or softening material to produce layers.


    How Much Will It Cost You?

    3D Printers suitable for home use can be bought from around £500. Industrial machines start at around £25,000 but can be as expensive as £1,000,000. The prices of machines are falling constantly and at an increasing rate. With the speed of development similar to computer technology advancement, it would be unwise to invest heavily into new technology as it will quickly become out of date, another option may be to lease the equipment

    What Materials Can Be Used in 3D Printing?

    Many different materials can be used for 3D printing, such as ABS plastic, PLA, polyamide (nylon), glass filled polyamide, stereolithography materials (epoxy resins), silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers and polycarbonate.

    Engineers are starting to explore how to use additive manufacturing with a wider range of metal alloys, including some materials specifically designed for 3D printing. GE Aviation, for one, is looking to use titanium, aluminum, and nickel-chromium alloys. A single part could be made of multiple alloys, letting designers tailor its material characteristics in a way that’s not possible with casting. A blade for an engine or turbine, for example, could be made with different materials so that one end is optimised for strength and the other for heat resistance.

    What Are The Benefits of 3D Printing?

    Complex parts can be made easily and quickly and in small quantities relatively cheaply.

    Designs are possible that were previously not possible due to the ground upward manufacture method. It is possible to build thin complex walls, multifaceted and multi structured designs in general.

    Minimum equipment is required.

    Data transfer can transfer designs and product manufacturing to a remote location.

    How Will 3D Printing Affect the Design and Manufacturing Industry?

    Shift to computer modeling based design, shift to prototyping by this technology, more design decisions made from use of solid model prototypes rather than on screen modeling.

    Less machined parts in prototyping and production in the medium to long-term future.

    What Other Industries Will Be Affected By 3D Printing?

    The list is endless…design, engineering, pharmaceutical, medical, aerospace, F1, textiles, clothing and many more. Furniture is a sector that is quickly taking advantage of it as detailed in this week’s edition of the FT.

    What Now For 3D Printing?

    Companies have already been set up to produce “on demand” products to customer’s own designs, often delivering within 48 hours.

    In the future a complete factory could be printed from 1 printer/robot growing and regenerating indefinitely. Printers will print robots; robots will assemble printers and other devices. In this way almost everything can be made on a printer.

    The cost of 3D printing will tumble.

    Already in prototype stage is the mass production of printers that will recycle materials to then be reused in a 3D printer. Users could simply get old unwanted objects, break them up and use the materials to print new objects. Combined with a cheap source of renewable energy, many households, factories countries or individuals and communities could become self-sufficient.

    Products will be purchased as digital designs rather than actual solid things and printed at home, gifts will be sent in the same way as a digital packet.

    The likes of machined, hand made or conventional machine made products may become the future “originals”, high cost treasured items like original paintings compared to prints (printed parts).

    Space exploration will consist of transportation, a printer/assembly device and suitable software and designs. Once the cell lands, or even during the journey, the printer cell will print everything that is required using some material taken from earth and include other material collected from the alien environment. Once items become obsolete they will be recycled into other usable objects. Human cells or biological cells and DNA may be printed so a whole community could be made. This may sound daft, but researchers in the technology sector at Cambridge are already working on this.

    For all your Metal and Plastic needs please head to
    Rod, Round Bar, Flat Bar, Tube



    Stainless Steel

    Mild Steel






  • Ferrari Announce the Enzo Replacement - The LaFerrari

    The F40 was the object of all young men’s dreams. The F50 had an engine developed directly from the 1992 F1 car. The Enzo was built using ultra advanced formula 1 technology. A tough act of hyper-car pedigree to follow for the LaFerrari, the most hotly anticipated car unveiled at the Geneva Motorshow!


    On first impressions, it doesn’t disappoint.


    The LaFerrari ushers the Prancing Horse into a new age for hyper-cars, with it being Ferrari’s first hybrid car, which Ferrari have manufactured. The HY-KERS unit provides short burst of power from electric motors, which produce an extra 161 bhp. The LaFerrari’s mid-rear mounted 6.3 litre engine produces 789 bhp and 664 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful road going Ferrari in history.


    The LaFerrari is the first Ferrari to not be designed in collaboration with Italian design house Pininfarina (responsible for timeless designs such as the F355 and more recently the Maserati Granturismo), since 1951. Opinions at the Geneva Motorshow seem to suggest that this was a brave move for which fortune has favoured. It seems Ferrari have re-discovered their styling passion with this design of flowing and complete lines.


    Underneath the beautiful skin of the LaFerrari exists, as one would expect, a plethora of space age technologies. Active aerodynamics, a carbon fibre monocoque with 27 percent more torsional rigidity than the Enzo, SCM-E Frs magnetorheological damping with twin solenoids and high performance ABS/EBD anti-lock braking system/electronic brake balance.


    No official figures on the performance have been given yet but Ferrari have stated that it will reach 60mph in under 3 seconds and have a top speed exceeding 220mph. The car has lapped the Fiorano test track in under 1 minute 20 seconds, which is quicker than any other road legal Ferrari in history.


    So is the LaFerrari going to be a hit? We think…absolutely! Insane styling? Check. Insane performance stats? Check. Insane price? Check. It may all come down to how it will fare against the McClaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spider, the other forthcoming hyper-cars of this generation. What seems to be a revolutionary design will probably cause it to be the car on the tips of mid life crises stricken men’s tongues, in twenty years time when they think back to the dream car of their child hood. Unfortunately, most of them will still not be able to afford one!

  • Tell Us What You're Up To, Competition Winner!

    Congratulations to Ian Hart, who has won our April edition of the "Tell Us What You're Up To" Competition!

    Ian has won a £50 voucher to use at

    Entries for the May competition are still being accepted. Please send your articles to

    Head to for more information.

    See Ian's article below;

    I have been a target shooter for 20 years and have used a variety of firearms.  In 1999 I commissioned a commercial aluminium stock for a rifle.  I used this combination successfully for a number of years but a back injury 4 years ago meant that I couldn’t deal with the weight.  Various commercial stocks are available in wood, laminates and GRP but none were light enough for me to be comfortable with.

    Having retired and equipped a small workshop with a hobby lathe and milling machine I decided to make a ‘Butt’ for my rifle using Acetal and Delrin.  This proved to be lighter than the commercial offering and of course it was made to fit me and to allow adjustment for differing conditions which might necessitate thicker clothing for example.


    Realising that I could take this further I then set about producing a complete assembly which is shown as photo 2.  For aesthetics I produced grooves in the surface which also provide grip when shooting in gloves.



    I have also spent time producing stocks, in aluminium, for different rifles:

    One is a ‘Bull-pup’ which brings the rifle action further back to make for easier rapid transition from target to target in ‘Action’ shooting events.



    The other is for ‘Bench-Rest’ competition in which the shooter sits at a ‘Bench’ and ‘rests’ the rifle. The bottom of this stock is flat to allow it to sit properly on the ‘rest’.  The ‘bull’ of the target for this discipline is the size of the bullet and can be 50metres away.


  • Introduction to Milling

    Hi Metal Users,

    Here is some interesting info on the basics of machining brass and stainless steel round bar.

    Just thought this may give you guys a clue as to what other uses our material may have!



  • Our Revamped Packing Facility

    We are constantly making changes to improve the service we provide here an

    Here is a picture of our revamped packing facility.



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