McKenna Precision Castings was established in South Yorkshire in 1983 as a specialist manufacturer of cobalt-chrome medical implants. A highly successful company, they acquired Finecast in Maidenhead in 2001, to secure a strategic and complementary capability in precision aluminium castings, primarily for the aerospace and defence sectors.
Rapid Prototype model which can be readily converted to a â€˜sight housingâ€™ casting for theÂ Warrior family of tracked armoured vehicles (courtesy of Alvis Vickers Ltd.)
Companies in sectors such as medical, aerospace and defence are critically dependent on theÂ supply of short-lead time components for development activities. Often required in small batches,Â the volume cannot justify the cost of conventional tooling even if the lead time allowed. YetÂ component integrity, dimensional accuracy, surface finish and other attributes need to correspondÂ very closely, if not exactly, to those which ultimately would be achieved with a refinedÂ manufacturing procedure â€“ otherwise the data generated during expensive and time-consumingÂ performance analysis would not be meaningful.
McKenna Group is one of only a hand-full of UK companies capable of meeting such demandingÂ market needs. Now, their performance has been enhanced by teaming with Cti, which is the onlyÂ agency in the UK capable of producing the models or patterns from which castings can be madeÂ to the necessary standard. While other agencies can supply the models just as rapidly (directlyÂ from 3D CAD data), Cti is almost unique in its awareness of the specific needs of both theÂ castings producer and the customer. Cti can in turn, therefore, ensure that the model has all theattributes necessary to achieve the desired outcome through its detailed knowledge of castingÂ design, materials and manufacturing techniques.
Don McKenna has no doubts of the value of this technical capacity at Cti: â€œFollowing Ctiâ€™sÂ investment in Rapid Prototyping technology a year or so ago, we immediately established aÂ strategic alliance with them to underpin our â€˜Fast Track Solutionsâ€™ initiative. We promoted this atÂ the last two Farnborough exhibitions in a jointly-funded DVD. This is being up-dated for our standÂ at this yearâ€™s British Orthopaedic Exhibition, again on a shared-cost basis. The resultingÂ business has required us to procure more than Â£100k worth of models from them and it hasÂ proved to be a significant advantage to have them on our doorstep. For 9 distinct productÂ development projects, more than 800 rapid prototype models have been made to date forÂ companies such as Thales, AMS, Siemens Magnet Technology Ltd and Sheffield OrthopaedicÂ Innovations, generating Â£600,000 of business! Merging two businesses has been challengingand costly; more than Â£2m has been invested and without Ctiâ€™s support we would have 6 fewerÂ people working hereâ€.
The McKenna Group is a partner in a Dti-funded Aeronautics Research Programme, which Cti isÂ managing, and has considerable interest in Ctiâ€™s activities on titanium castings. Don McKennaÂ adds: â€it is comforting to know that someone is engaged in high-risk practical and relevantÂ activities which we donâ€™t have the time or money to do, yet which could have such a significantÂ impact on our futureâ€.