When Mollart Engineering was founded, Machinery magazine was well into its teen years. Back in 1929 Mollart grew out of the closure of the AC Cars factory with the creation of a partnership between JC Hendra and the current MD Guy Mollart’s grandfather, Arthur.
Still very much a family owned business with three specialist operating divisions within the Mollart Group employing 120 people and a turnover of £16 million, it designs and builds deep hole drilling machines and supplies tooling related to deep hole drilling from the Chessington, Surrey headquarters and has a very successful subcontract manufacturing operation related to deep hole production plus added value processes in Chessington and Resolven in South Wales.
The subcontract operation, where complex machining cycles can take up to 40 hours to complete, contribute some 50 per cent to the Mollart Group sales supplying aerospace, defence, medical, semiconductor, deep sea exploration, oil and gas, nuclear and telecoms sectors with components as well as meeting the growing need for subassemblies.
While the current production capability involves five-axis machining, highly complex turn-milling, flow deburring and ultrasonic cleaning, which has soaked up investments of over £5 million in the last three years, back in the Albany Works in 1933 Mollart Engineering was heavily involved in development engineering and production of the main rotor head used in autogiros. Through the war years military equipment and production of landing arrester gear hooks for Fairey Swordfishes were produced plus components for mechanical computers used in AB Bofors ack-ack anti-aircraft guns.
As war drew to a close Mollart moved into designing and developing its machine tool business initially with special purpose machines and when Guy Mollart’s father Ken, taking over in 1962 this led to the first gundrill development and launch in 1965. Today the specialisation in deep hole drilling provides a hole capacity from micro 0.5 mm to 150 mm diameter and maintaining high penetration rates over depths up to 3,000 mm.
With machines shipped around the world, sales in 2011/2012 have doubled against 2006 closing a record year with an £8 million build backlog.
Indeed, Mollart is now the largest supplier of deep hole drilling machines into China and recently signed a joint venture agreement with the Chinese to produce an ‘economy’ range of machines to satisfy the domestic demand. The Mollart machine range is wide covering almost all application areas from special purpose with a ‘world first’ of up to 16 spindles producing multiple close-pitch holes for pellet dies, micro-drilling for medical and fuel injection, multi-spindle, off-centre and close wall drilling, flexible combination deep hole/ machining centres (FMC) and TPA trepanning centres up to 300 mm diameter bore sizes by 1,200 mm deep from solid.
Key in the process development of deep hole drilling is the tooling and in 1993 Mollart commenced manufacture Botek gundrills under licence with a re-tipping service being carried out at Chessington. In 2009 Mollart acquired Bencere to expand its tooling capability into bore finishing, roller burnishing and deburring. The company now has under its wing the capability and expertise to supply gundrills, BTA, ejector, trepanning and special tooling from 0.5 mm diameter to 410 mm diameter, with accessories such as boring tubes, ejector drilling adaptors and setting fixtures, plus roller burnish tooling.
With this total level of expertise plus the history of process development Mollart has just been awarded a £250,000 grant to further develop the deep hole process in steerable gundrill technology. It will use in-process monitoring and correction to create even straighter, more concentric round holes over greater depth-to-diameter ratios for holes between 6 mm and 65 mm diameter by up to 7,000 mm in depth.
During 2012 work is underway to expand Chessington by 3,000 ft² to 17,000 ft² and increase machine build capacity, design, development and application areas. As the third generation of the Mollart family involved in machining and engineering Mr Mollart said: “We have the resource to provide a complete manufacturing and production service to enable our customers to do what they do best. We are the single source to provide ‘The Hole Solution’.”