Dissimilar laser welding of aluminium and copper alloys

TWI worked for its members to solve the technical problems of joining aluminium to copper using laser welding technology. An increasing number of enquiries over the past two years from members asking for support in this area led to the successful development of a high-speed laser-technology-based solution.

An increase in manufacturing demand in the automotive industry, for example, for products with high capacity battery cells is leading to interest in the technical solutions. High capacity battery cells use aluminium and copper, as the anode and cathode terminals respectively, to improve electric current flow and boost a vehicle’s performance. Existing electrical connection joining technologies, such as ultrasonic welding and the use of direct conductive adhesives, are deemed too slow for the high demand in a manufacturing situation.

Laser welding is considered an attractive process to industry due to its high processing speed and highly repeatable, fully automated, process. However, laser welding of copper to aluminium presents several challenges. Because of the high surface reflectivity and thermal conductivity of copper, and the poor miscibility of aluminium and copper, keyhole instability and brittle intermetallic formation are common issues found when laser welding these metals. Read more: TWI.


Apprentice Levy Funds “not being used”

Figures obtained by the BBC show that employers who are paying money into their
apprenticeship levy accounts are not then using the money to fund apprenticeships in
their organisation. One possible reason is the outdated notion that apprentices can
be difficult to manage.

In this week’s edition of In the Know, we cover:

– Care sector awaits key NMW decision
– Critical resignation letters should not be ignored
– Apprentice levy funds “not being used”
– New immigration system confirmed for 1 January 2021

In The Know wc 170220



The Croner Business Support Helpline is FREE to ALFED Members
– please contact the ALFED offices on 0330 236 2800 for details.

Apprenticeship Resources

Use the latest resources about apprenticeships to access funding

The Apprenticeship service – sign up to an account now.

Smaller employers that don’t pay the apprenticeship levy are now able to create an account on the government’s award-winning apprenticeship service.

We are able to share a link to resources about apprenticeships you can use to support and engage your members. It includes the following:

  • The benefits of the apprenticeship service and how to register to create an account.
  • Apprenticeship Standards

You can also download our free fact sheet ‘7 Reasons to Embrace Apprenticeships’ and sign up to receive updates on apprenticeship funding rules.

Click on the link for the most up to date information about apprenticeships to share with your members so they can access the apprenticeship service and reap the benefits of apprenticeships.

Washington increases tariffs on aircraft after EU subsidy row

The dispute over subsidies to aircraft makers has escalated, with Washington imposing a higher tariff on Airbus and aeroplane parts from the EU.

It will go up from 10% to 15% next month, while most other tariffs on EU exports to America, on a range of goods, standing at 25%, are retained.

The US Trade Representative pulled back on including salmon and blended Scotch.

But the Scotch Whisky Association said it was “deeply disappointed” the tariff will be retained.

It covers single malts and liqueurs from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

While the UK has now left the EU, current rules on trade will continue during the transition period until the start of 2021 while new trading relationships are negotiated.

The distillers’ group issued a new estimate that the cost to the industry is likely to be more than £100m in annual exports.

Tariffs will also be retained on cashmere jumpers from Scotland and British “sweet biscuits”, of which the biggest export is Scottish shortbread.

Some types of meat and dairy produce from the European Union and UK have also faced tariffs since 15 October, along with books, tools and some shellfish and fruit.

Only two small changes have been made to the list of goods covered by the US tariffs which began in October; kitchen knives from France and Germany have been added, but prune juice has been removed.

The action by the office of the US Trade Representative is targeted mainly at the countries where Airbus is built – primarily the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

The legal statement issued on Friday night in Washington said: “The United States remains open to a negotiated settlement that addresses current and future subsidies to Airbus provided by the EU and certain current and former member states”.

It said it had considered putting up the tariff rate as high as 100%, but after receiving 26,000 responses to a consultation begun in mid-December, it decided not to do so.

However, there was a warning in Friday’s statement of further escalation by Washington if there is retaliation against the higher aircraft tariff by the European Union, or to pursue EU claims that there are unfair subsidies paid to Boeing in the US.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, commented: “We’re deeply disappointed that a 25% tariff remains in place on exports of single malt Scotch whisky and liqueurs to the United States.

“This tariff has now been in place for four months and is hitting Scotch whisky producers hard, particularly small distilleries. We’ve seen a significant drop in exports already, and based on this we believe we could be facing at least £100m in lost exports over a year.

“The EU, US and UK must now redouble their efforts to resolve transatlantic trade disputes quickly, so that Scotch and American whiskies can return to the tariff-free trade from which we have benefitted for more than 20 years. It cannot be right that our industry is continuing to pay the price of trade disputes that have nothing to do with our sector.”

The industry group has welcomed comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he intends to use the post-Brexit freedom to manage trade to end the 25% EU tariff on imports of US whiskey, which was introduced as part of a separate trade dispute with the European Union, over steel tariffs.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace trade body ADS, urged the EU and US authorities to work together to remove the threat of tariffs.

He said: “Low tariffs on aerospace products globally have helped give consumers safe, technology advanced and increasingly fuel efficient aircraft that connect global communities.

“We urge the EU and US authorities to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution that removes the threat of tariffs and sustains competitive markets.”

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk

The Future Relationship between the UK and the EU

Written statement to Parliament

The Government wishes to see a future relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals for the benefit of all our peoples. There is complete certainty that at the end of 2020 the process of transition to that relationship will be complete and that the UK will have recovered in full its economic and political independence. The Government remains committed in all circumstances to securing all those benefits for the whole of the UK and to strengthening our Union.

The question for the rest of 2020 is whether the UK and the EU can agree a deeper trading relationship on the lines of the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada, or whether the relationship will be based simply on the Withdrawal Agreement deal agreed in October 2019, including the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. In either event the UK will be leaving the single market and the customs union at the end of this year and stakeholders should prepare for that reality.

The Government will work hard to achieve a balanced agreement that is in the interests of both sides, reflecting the wide range of shared interests. Any agreement must respect the sovereignty of both parties and the autonomy of our legal orders. It cannot therefore include any regulatory alignment, any jurisdiction for the CJEU over the UK’s laws, or any supranational control in any area, including the UK’s borders and immigration policy.

This points to a suite of agreements of which the main elements would be a comprehensive free trade agreement covering substantially all trade, an agreement on fisheries, and an agreement to cooperate in the area of internal security, together with a number of more technical agreements covering areas such as aviation or civil nuclear cooperation. These should all have governance and dispute settlement arrangements appropriate to a relationship of sovereign equals.

Future cooperation in other areas does not need to be managed through an international Treaty, still less through shared institutions. The UK will in future develop separate and independent policies in areas such as (but not limited to) the points-based immigration system, competition and subsidy policy, the environment, social policy, procurement, and data protection, maintaining high standards as we do so. Cooperation on foreign affairs and related issues is of course likely to be substantial, but does not in itself require a joint institutional framework.

In its negotiations with the EU, the Government will be acting on behalf of the UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories: the whole UK family.

The UK proposes to agree similar arrangements with the EFTA states.

Further information is set out below. Unless otherwise stated, it should be assumed that the UK’s aspiration and level of ambition is to reach agreement on provisions which are at least as good as those in the EU’s recent trade agreements, such as those with Canada or Japan.

  1. Free Trade Agreement

A free trade agreement between the UK and EU should reflect, and develop where necessary, existing international best practice as set out, inter alia, in FTAs already agreed by the EU.

It should cover the following areas:

National Treatment and Market Access for Goods

There should be no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions between the UK and the EU. There should be a protocol setting out appropriate and modern rules of origin, in order to facilitate trade between the parties to the greatest extent possible.

Trade Remedies

The agreement should enable the UK to protect its industry from harm caused by unexpected surges in imports of goods or by unfair trading practices, while making the appropriate commitments to transparency, due process and proportionate use of trade remedies.

Technical Barriers to Trade

There should be provisions to address regulatory barriers to trade in goods, providing for cooperation on technical regulation, standards, conformity assessment procedures and market surveillance, building on the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. Annexes to the agreement could include provisions facilitating trade in specific sectors, such as organic products, motor vehicles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as well as mutual recognition agreements focusing on conformity assessment, with full coverage of the relevant sectors.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

The UK will maintain its own autonomous sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regime to protect human, animal and plant life and health and the environment, reflecting its existing high standards. In certain areas it may be possible to agree equivalence provisions to reduce practical barriers to trade at the border.

Customs and Trade Facilitation

Facilitative customs arrangements, covering all trade in goods, should be put in place in order to smooth trade between the UK and the EU. These should ensure that both customs authorities are able to protect their regulatory, security and financial interests.

Cross-Border Trade in Services and Investment

Significant provisions on trade in services are an essential component of a comprehensive FTA. Accordingly, the Agreement should include measures to minimise barriers to the cross-border supply of services and investment, on the basis of each side’s commitments in existing FTAs. In areas of key interest, such as professional and business services, there may be scope to go beyond these commitments.

There should be measures to support digital trade, building on the most recent precedents.

Temporary Entry for Business Purposes (Mode 4)

As is normal in a Free Trade Agreement, the agreement should include significant reciprocal commitments on the temporary entry and stay of individuals, so that both EU and UK nationals can undertake short-term business trips to supply services. This is of course without prejudice to the future points-based immigration system.

Regulatory Framework

There should be measures that reduce unnecessary barriers to trade in services, streamlining practical processes and providing for appropriate regulatory cooperation.

Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications

The Agreement should provide a pathway for the mutual recognition of UK and EU qualifications, underpinned by regulatory cooperation, so that qualification requirements do not become an unnecessary barrier to trade.

Financial Services

The Agreement should require both sides to provide a predictable, transparent, and business- friendly environment for financial services firms, ensuring financial stability and providing certainty for both business and regulatory authorities, and with obligations on market access and fair competition. Given the depth of the relationship in this area, there should also be enhanced provision for regulatory and supervisory cooperation arrangements with the EU, and for the structured withdrawal of equivalence findings.

Road Transport

There should be reciprocal commitments to allow EU and UK road transport operators to provide services to, from and through each other’s territories, with associated rights, underpinned by relevant international agreements and commitments, and ensuring the necessary cooperation on monitoring and enforcement.

Competition Policy, Subsidies, Environment and Climate, Labour, Tax

The Government will not agree to measures in these areas which go beyond those typically included in a comprehensive free trade agreement. The Government believes therefore that both Parties should recognise their respective commitments to maintaining high standards in these areas; confirm that they will uphold their international obligations; and agree to avoid using measures in these areas to distort trade.

  1. Agreement on Fisheries

The UK will become an independent coastal state at the end of 2020 and any agreement must reflect this reality. The UK will, like Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, have annual negotiations with the EU on access to waters and fishing opportunities, and will consider a mechanism for cooperation on fisheries matters.

  1. Agreement on Internal Security Cooperation

Protection of citizens is the highest duty of any Government. The UK believes it is in the UK’s and EU’s mutual interest to reach a pragmatic agreement to provide a framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters between the UK and the EU, delivering strong operational capabilities that help protect the public. The detail of such an agreement must be consistent with the Government’s position that the CJEU and the EU legal order must not constrain the autonomy of the UK’s legal system in any way.

  1. Other Areas of Cooperation

The Government believes there is mutual benefit in an air transport agreement covering market access for air services, aviation safety and security, and collaboration on air traffic management.

The UK is ready to work to establish practical provisions to facilitate smooth border crossing arrangements, as part of independent border and immigration systems, and on social security coordination. All such arrangements should be reciprocal and of mutual benefit. The UK is ready to discuss cooperation on asylum, including family reunion, and illegal migration.

The UK is ready to consider participation in certain EU programmes, once the EU has agreed the baseline in its 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, and taking into account the overall value to the UK of doing so.

Finally, there are certain areas where the UK considers agreement is self-evidently in the interest of both sides, and where early progress is a test of the constructive nature of the negotiating process. For example, there should be rapid agreement that the UK and the EU would list each other for trade in live animals, animal products, seeds and other plant-propagating material. There should be rapid progress towards a Civil Nuclear Agreement, given the implications for both sides of not doing so and the clear benefits of cooperation. Similarly, the UK would see the EU’s assessment processes on financial services equivalence and data adequacy as technical and confirmatory of the reality that the UK will be operating exactly the same regulatory frameworks as the EU at the point of exit. The UK intends to approach its own technical assessment processes in this spirit.

A copy of this statement will be placed in the Library.

Published 3 February 2020

Health & Safety – Aluminium in Consumer Products

What the science says..

Aluminium and Health

The International Aluminium Institute has prepared a set of information sheets on the use of aluminium in some common consumer products.

For more information visit this link.

Aluminium Stewardship Initiative certifies Bridgnorth Aluminium plant in the United Kingdom against ASI Performance Standard

Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) today announced that Bridgnorth Aluminium’s plant in Shropshire, UK has been successfully certified against ASI’s Performance Standard for responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium. The plant’s operations include casthouses, rolling mills, two Litho Centres, a multi-slitting line and finishing lines. The company has manufactured aluminium strip since 1933.

The ASI Certification program was developed through an extensive multi-stakeholder consultation process and is the only comprehensive voluntary sustainability standard initiative for the aluminium value chain. The ASI Performance Standard defines environmental, social and governance principles and criteria, with the aim to address sustainability issues in the aluminium value chain. It sets out 59 criteria under the three sustainability pillars of Governance, Environment and Social, which address key issues such as biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples rights, and greenhouse gas emissions. The independent, third-party audit of the Bridgnorth Aluminium plant was carried out by DNV GL.

Fiona Solomon, Chief Executive Officer at ASI said “We warmly congratulate Bridgnorth Aluminium on their ASI Certification, connecting a historical company with their contemporary commitment to sustainability. Since the company’s products are used in such diverse sectors like lithographic printing and automotive, packaging and energy, Bridgnorth is a great ambassador of responsible production practices for these downstream industries.”

Simon MacVicker, Managing Director of Bridgnorth Aluminium said “We are very proud to achieve this ASI certification, which follows rigorous external assessment of our business and the way we run it. We are proud that our longstanding efforts towards sustainability are now objectively recognised, and we will use the new knowledge and experience, which we have gained through the certification process in order to further improve our sustainability performance”.

ALFED President Giles Ashmead to hand over presidency in 2020

Giles Ashmead, ALFED President

Giles Ashmead has been President of the Aluminium Federation since May 2017, his input and support has been greatly appreciated by all at ALFED.

Giles’ President’s tenure will end in 2019, his input will continue with his role as ‘Immediate Past President’ and also with the ALFED Finishing Sector group.

We will soon be welcoming Clive Bush as our new President starting from January 2020, Clive is an ALFED board member bringing valuable experience and insight from his role as Business Development Director of Amari Metals.

See what Giles said of his time as ALFED President here.

Thank you Giles!


Giles Ashmead, Murat Bayram & Andrew Stephenson

KYOCERA SGS supporting Acorn Mobility Services

KYOCERA SGS gives Acorn’s manufacturing processes a lift

Precision tooling leader, KYOCERA SGS, is proud of its ability to identify innovative solutions for clients, however complex the challenges might be. So the company welcomed the opportunity to support Acorn Mobility Services, the creators of the world’s most innovative stairlift, with resolving a complex drilling issue. As well as making their manufacturing more effective through tailored advice and tools, KYOCERA SGS was also able to save Acorn time and money in their manufacturing processes.

Finding new answers

Acorn had identified that a significant drilling issue was affecting their manufacturing process. This was caused by burrs made when creating countersunk holes in aluminium extrusions through drilling. The company was deburring the bottom of the hole manually, costing time and money.
KYOCERA SGS’s Technical Sales Engineer, Kurt Regan, and UK Sales Manager, Tony Theaker, visited Acorn’s manufacturing facility to assess the problem. Based on their review, they recommended one of KYOCERA SGS’s S-Carb style form tools, as this would be highly effective at plunging and interpolating the hole and countersinking it to size. The outcome was a reduction in cycle time and minimal burrs on the component with little requirement for manual deburring and fettling.

Taking the tests further

Being driven to exceed client expectations as always, the KYOCERA SGS team weren’t satisfied with just one test, however successful. They wanted to see the results on a lower stability machine. As they had anticipated, the results weren’t the same. They found that manual fettling was once again required. In response to this, Kurt completed a number of on-site tests to assess a range of parameters. This was how he discovered that the plunge motion was stable, with the problem occurring at the circular interpolation stage. The answer? In Kurt’s view, different geometries were required. This additional insight allowed KYOCERA SGS’s in-house technical team to design a modified S-Carb with varying geometries. The adapted tool was put to the test and the results were excellent, as Kurt explains,

“We trialled the new tooling at Acorn’s facility, and straight away, there were fewer burrs, and a much better surface finish.”

Raising the standard

Taking a fresh look at a long-standing manufacturing issue can yield significant results. The new modified S-Carb from KYOCERA SGS is designed specifically for Acorn Mobility Services. Not only has it reduced the cycle time by 31 seconds, alongside deburring and fettling time, it has increased production capability by 30,798 components per year! Kurt adds,

“We are very pleased with results. We often find that companies grow so accustomed to working around an issue, they no longer recognise it as a problem. In this case, Acorn Mobility Services accepted manual intervention as part of their manufacturing process. But in majority of the cases, there’s a tooling solution – and that’s where our expertise really helps, allowing Acorn to focus on what they do best! We are now working on designing modified tools for other parts of their manufacturing process. If successful, they will provide similar cycle and deburring time savings on two machines.”

Mark Spiwak, Production Engineer at Acorn Mobility Services commented,

“The team from KYOCERA SGS worked closely with us from start to finish. We were impressed with how quickly they were able to understand the challenges and the complexities of our manufacturing processes. We were also pleased with how effectively they were able to develop a solution tailored to our needs and within our timescales. KYOCERA SGS made the whole process very easy.”

To learn more about Acorn Mobility Services, visit: www.acornstairlifts.co.uk

To learn more about Kyocera SGS Precision Tools, please visit: kyocera-sgstool.co.uk

Inspiring innovation in aerospace – Kyocera

Kyocera SGS

Inspiring innovation in aerospace with Zimmermann and Kingsbury

KYOCERA SGS helped to support innovation in the aerospace sector at a hugely successful Technology Day organised with Zimmermann and Kingsbury in November.

Held in Neuhausen, Germany, the event focused around the machining of structural aerospace parts and provided a unique opportunity for leaders in the industry to view Zimmermann’s FZH400 machine in action. The FZH400 is a horizontal-spindle machining centre for the efficient production of structural components in the aerospace industry. It is a quantum leap in the machining of structural aerospace components and has been shown to achieve a metal removal rate of 13 litres per minute!

With Zimmermann recognised for manufacturing the most advanced portal milling machines on the market, KYOCERA SGS known as leaders in the tooling industry and Kingsbury valued for providing manufacturers with innovative machining solutions, the event brought together a huge amount of engineering expertise.  It came about thanks to the strong working relationship and history of collaboration between the three companies.

The team from KYOCERA SGS involved with helping to organise the day in conjunction with Zimmermann and Kingsbury was made up of Ray Gibbs, Aerospace Technologies Manager and Steve Neale, Senior Applications Engineer, with support from Antony Theaker, UK Sales Manager, David Colton, EU Sales Director and Joao Alves, European Application Engineer.

As well as impressive high-speed roughing, high-speed finishing and other technical demonstrations, the packed agenda included company and partner presentations, factory tours and networking.

Ray Gibbs said:

“We were delighted to be asked to support the event. It was not only a fantastic opportunity to showcase products and demonstrate different ways of using our tooling, but also a great chance to network with our industry. We were also excited to see the new FZH400 machine in action and proud to have had a role in helping to shape the development of what is a game-changing piece of machinery for the aerospace industry. Long may our successful collaboration continue.”

Key players in the aerospace industry were invited to make a presentation about their latest innovations, as well as having a stand where visitors could visit and talk with them one to one. In addition to KYOCERA SGS, these companies were:

  • Blaser Swisslube
  • Montronix
  • RUF Automobile

There was a great deal to see on the day for the 40 or so delegates in attendance but the buzz centred around the new Zimmermann FZH400 machine and its achievement, with KYOCERA SGS tooling, of an aluminium metal removal rate of 13.5 litres a minute and a spindle load of 85%! As well as fresh insights about aerospace parts machining, the event provided plenty of opportunities for networking, which is vital to the industry.