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Established in 1958, Lancashire-based Ashton Jig and Tool Company Limited is renowned across the UK for creating precision engineering solutions of the highest standards. When current managing director, Jon Clifton, took over running the business from his father in 1986, he began an investment programme in CNC machinery that has seen Ashton Jig and Tool become a key supplier of bespoke components to organisations across the oil & gas, automotive, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, food, hygienic processing and nuclear energy sectors.

Today, Ashton Jig and Tool’s capabilities include CAD, temperature-controlled inspection, wire-eroding, electro discharge machining, conventional milling, full 3-D 4-axis CNC milling, conventional and CNC turning, jig boring, grinding, sawing, drilling, tapping, pressing and engraving. Following the recent purchase of a Technifor Class 1 LW3 Laser Workstation from Technifor Limited, which is part of the Gravotech Group, the company is now also able to offer high quality, high-speed marking on metals, ceramics and plastics.

“Some may view my approach to investing in new manufacturing technologies as unconventional,” comments Jon Clifton. “That’s because, unlike those business owners who wait until they have a specific need for a new machine, when I see a piece of equipment that I think will be of long-term benefit to the business, particularly in terms of sub-contract work, I tend to go for it. With our extensive customer base, reputation for accuracy, and commitment to delivering value for money, I find it’s not too long before a new machine is fully utilised.”

Needless to say, Jon Clifton’s decision to invest in a Technifor Laser Workstation was the result of similar reasoning – and although the Technifor machine has only been in place for a few months, it is already generating considerable levels of interest.

“Earlier this year [2019],” adds Jon, “I was asked to quote for engraving part reference and drawing numbers on a range of small bronze components. With only a manual engraving capability on site at the time, I had no option but to outsource. Not only was the ‘in price’ quoted to me far in excess of what I would consider charging our customer, the completed job didn’t meet the high standards that I set for everything we do at Ashton Jig and Tool.

“Seeing the potential for laser engraving, I approached two manufacturers for advice, one of which was Technifor. Not only did Technifor’s machine represent better value for money and better suit my needs, the support and information provided by their technical sales engineer, Simon Tims, was outstanding. Simon also ensured that my chosen machine was installed promptly – all in good time for me to fulfil the originally outsourced task in-house.”

With advice from Simon Tims, Jon decided to purchase a Technifor LW3 Laser Workstation equipped with Technifor’s F20 (20 watt) Fibre Laser marking machine.  The LW3 workstation was chosen for its ability to accommodate larger components, while the F20 laser marking machine was selected for its capabilities in precision-marking an extensive range of often-intricate metals and ABS plastics. To enable cylindrical objects to be engraved, the machine was specified with an optional 4th axis, a rotary attachment that allows for the marking and engraving of cylindrical parts.

“Extremely user friendly, our Technifor machine was installed in under a day and is located in its own clean-room environment,” says Jon Clifton. “The quality of the marking is outstanding and will be particularly ideal for traceability and logo marking. In fact, we have already secured a significant order that is subject to 100% component inspection. I have no-doubt whatsoever that the machine will deliver.”

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