honing to a micron

Delapena’s disruptive development

May 2016 -

Known as a master of the honing market, Delapena has quietly been developing and is now on the cusp of a whole new chapter; with plans to dominate and lead the honing and grinding market.  This means doubling its turnover in the next two years and moving into new markets.  So how has it prepared for this ambitious advancement?

Deskilling honing

The first step was to deskill honing with technical innovation, by the design and manufacture of a range of electronically-controlled, high precision machines.  This deskilled approach affords many more companies the ability to include honing in-house and Delapena offers a service that supports a prospective buyer right from feasibility on a part, to specification and new machine manufacture, to special tools and services, application development, process engineering, maintenance and training. The range of seven machines cater for precision down to one micron and can support everything from prototyping to small batch production, of 20 to 250 parts.

From this foundation, Delapena has added specialist services to support every aspect of improving surface finish. This includes an application centre, subcontract honing department, tooling refurbishment centre and a reverse engineering tooling centre.  Its aim is to be the defacto expert and complete supplier for all honing needs, but its appetite doesn’t stop there.

Interim options

Recognising the complexity in capital expense purchase, with the long associated lead time, Delapena realised that there was a gap it could fill by the introduction of interim support via sub contract honing.  Using its own range of high precision machines and calling on over 85 years of honing experience within the company, it now offers a high quality honing service, either as a permanent solution, or as an interim measure for machine customers.  This, says managing director, Martin Elliott, creates a risk-free way for customers to bring their honing in-house.  “We are currently supporting three of the F1 teams this very approach,” he said.  “This season we will sub-contract hone their engine components with the plan to build a machine for them to assimilate this process into their operation next year.”  Whilst high quality, this service is surprisingly affordable says Elliott: “Using our own machines, existing engineering expertise, our own consumables and oils, means that we can offer highly competitive rates,” he declared. “Whilst we initially introduced the sub-contract service for honing machine customers, we are now expanding it into the wider market.”

Bringing in high volume

touch screen operation

Building on its honing strength, Delapena now has a strategic relationship with US-based Engis Corporation, which means its machines are sold under license in the United States and Asia and it has exclusive rights to sell the Engis range of high volume honing machines in the UK and the rest of Europe.  These new machines extend Delapena’s high accuracy honing capability into high volume production, for runs of around one million components per annum.  It also extends the dimensional accuracy from a typical 0.001mm down to 0.0005mm. 

Moving beyond just honing, Delapena has another important relationship with CUMI Corporation.  This sees its machines manufactured under license in India, but perhaps more importantly, it brings a vast range of grinding machines, tools and abrasives into Delapena’s portfolio.

Suitable for automotive, aerospace, medical and general engineering applications, Delapena’s grinding products include a range of eight machines, precision rotary truers and dressing tools, plus a range of conventional abrasive grinding wheels and super abrasives.   Beyond its support for all grinding applications, Delapena also plans to offer its products to other machine builders to complement their offering with Delapena machinery and abrasives in order to give customers a total package.

A range of oils and fluids completes Delapena’s ‘war chest’ and it’s the final detail in the group’s complete offering for surface finishing in the bore or on the shaft.  This includes honing, neat cutting, machining, hydraulics and rust prevention products, from Delapena, Exol and Millers.

Audacious ambition

Whilst it has been busy building its capacity and strength, Delapena isn’t finished with its development plans, according to group chairman, David Arthur:  “2016 marks the ten year anniversary of my ownership of Delapena and it has been a decade of continuous investment and development,” he explained.  “And there’s more we plan to do; in the next year alone we have another division of the group to launch, which will take us into new markets and see us taking business from competitors.”

‘Bold, big and brave’ perhaps sums up Delapena’s ambition to disrupt the surface finishing market.  If its growth so far and strategic preparation is anything to go by, the next two years will be exciting to see.  It’s definitely one to watch!