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Mollart wins grant to help steer a path to more accurate, deeper deep hole drilling

Mollart Engineering is developing a steerable deep hole drilling process for through holes up to 7 m deep, with the help of government grant funding to the tune of up to £250,000.

The deep hole drilling process will see the drilling tool point steered or bowed to avoid other internal features of a component and, through in-process monitoring and correction, support the machining of straighter and more concentric round holes over greater depth-to-diameter ratios.

Explained Mollart Engineering sales director Ian Petitt: "Mollart is pursuing a totally new concept to extend the potential for deep hole drilling that is of particular interest to industry sectors such as the nuclear, oil and gas, fluid power and aerospace."

The process will not only be of help in certain existing deep hole drilling applications, especially in very complex, expensive components and difficult-to-machine materials, but, more importantly, create new areas of freedom, giving opportunities for next-generation component design and operational functions in the most challenging sectors of industry.

The two-year Mollart Acubore research and development project, to be carried out at its Chessington facility in Surrey and in conjunction with a leading engineering university, is grant funded by the Technology Strategy Board's Smart scheme.

The scheme supports research and development projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology, from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge. The Mollart project is viewed by the Technology Strategy Board as a prime example of collaboration between industry and university to meet specific future demands of important sectors of UK industry.

Added Mr Petitt: "This is a 'clean sheet of paper' development, in order to achieve the objectives to improve an already highly specialised process. The project involves developing a new concept using multi-axis CNC technology on a special-purpose machine, which also includes software, tooling and the application of the process."

For holes between 6 mm and 50 mm diameter, the gun drilling process will be used, meanwhile heavier duty BTA drilling will be used for holes up to 65 mm diameter. In both applications, blind holes up to 3,500 mm deep and through bores up to 7,000 mm in depth will be able to be drilled from solid.