As one of the world’s leading specialists in the production of metal sheet finishes, particularly stainless steel, Enfield, Middlesex-based Rimex has constantly re-invented itself over its 60 year history. In doing so it has maintained a high profile across global markets for its range of polished, embossed and coloured stainless steel sheet products.
The diversity of Rimex’s product range, which can be found across applications from transport, interior and exterior architecture, catering, industrial and nuclear has been a strength over the years. Developments such as INCO coating and PVD colouring have also opened up new opportunities to expand its customer portfolio. The latest addition to its offering is in the form of a bespoke Timesavers 72 Series 1600-HL Hairline finishing system through longstanding supplier Ellesco. “While many of our European customers prefer the satin finish on sheet for internal architectural features, Hairline is extremely popular in the Asian market,” says Nick Barnes, Sales Director, Rimex. “We have been able to supply Hairline product, but it wasn’t straightforward and we had to modify/reset existing machines to do it, which added time and cost. The decision to invest in a bespoke machine from Ellesco and Timesavers to achieve that finish has streamlined the whole process.”
While this investment in the Hairline machine will assist exports to the Asian market, it is also expected to open up opportunities across other markets also. “The addition of this dedicated Hairline production capability is another string to our bow,” says Nick Barnes. “It perfectly ties in with our existing product portfolio and the ability to offer Hairline processed sheet in combination with our INCO and PVD coloured stainless steel material provides great potential to increase sales in all of our markets. We can now confidently aim for further growth as we have the confidence in our ability to deliver Hairline as a stand-alone product. The Timesavers machine also gives us the confidence that we can supply consistent quality from order to order and that consistency is vital as our products are in constant view across projects from elevators to building exteriors, so any discrepancy will be easy to spot.”
So, what is Hairline? In normal polishing and finishing, such as Rimex’s Satin products, the surface finish undergoes abrasion from a fast-moving abrasive belt and rotary brush in a Timesavers 62-1600-WWB machine. This gives a finish with short and varied ‘scratched’ surface. With Hairline, the material is polished and finished as normal, then passed through the 72 Series 1600-HL Hairline machine. Here the abrasive belt is moving at much slower speed around 0.6 -2 mm/min while the material is passed beneath it. The effect is to create a continuous ‘scratch effect’ from one end of the sheet to the other. A finish that is seen as more aesthetically pleasing for internal architectural features such as elevator doors and internal walls. To achieve this the Timesavers machine is equipped with a harder than normal contact roller over which the abrasive belt passes. This ensures the correct ‘aggression’ on the material being finished as a harder roller ensure firmer contact with the material. The actual finish is then governed by the grit size on the abrasive belt, which can be quickly changed if required to meet customer requirements.
“This Hairline machine is the is fifth Timesavers machine we have installed here over 30 year period,” says Richard Watson, Production Director, Rimex. “In that time, we have built an excellent relationship with the people at Ellesco and Timesavers. Of course, we consider other suppliers when looking to invest, but we always end up back at Ellesco as we know we can rely on them for their service and applications support and the quality of the machines they supply to us from Timesavers. We are now focussing on creating a standard Hairline finish, using a grit size that gives a softer look to the surface that meets all the standards for external cladding, where the surface finish has to be less than 0.5Ra. However, with the Timesavers machine we do have the ability to quickly change the abrasive belt to a larger or smaller grit size, which means that we can, if a customer specifies it create a wide range of Hairline finishes.”
Prior to the purchase of the machine discussions took place that made use of the combined experience of Rimex, Ellesco and Timesavers, this resulted in the decision to combine the two machines into a flowline configuration, which delivers everything that Rimex was asking for. This combination of Timesavers machines also aids efficiency, with the operator feeding raw sheet at one end of the line and an automated system at the other applying a protective paper coating before stacking the finished sheets. “When investing in machinery we always look for something that is better than the norm,” says Richard Watson. “In that regard Ellesco and Timesavers continually deliver exactly what we are looking for in terms of quality and performance.”