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The south is rising again!

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics and the co-located AutoAero show gets ready to make a rising return to Farnborough International Exhibition Centre from February 11-13, 2020.

Not surprisingly, given its location, the Southern Manufacturing & Electronics show is one of the most important annual events for the thriving aerospace supply chain eco-system across the South of England. Occupying the 20,000m² Farnborough International Exhibition Centre, the show brings together companies from across the UK along with a considerable number of offshore exhibitors from continental Europe, Asia and the Far East.

To anyone involved in aerospace manufacturing, Farnborough needs little introduction. However, the level of aerospace activity within a 50-mile radius of the iconic birthplace of the British aerospace industry might come as a surprise to some. Nearly 25% of the UK’s £35 billion aerospace industry is based locally, along with UK operations of numerous global enterprises such as Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream and Airbus Space & Defence. Not only does this ensure the presence of the major machinery manufacturers, but as most of the aerospace supply chain fall within the SME category, Southern Manufacturing’s inclusive format that encourages involvement from a wide array of specialist providers, produces a uniquely vibrant marketplace with an extremely broad appeal.

Adding to the show’s relevance for aerospace manufacturers, the event will once again be partnering with the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, alongside national organisations including Composites UK, NetComposites, the SMMT, the Confederation of British Metalforming, the GTMA and the British Gear Association. Also taking part this year is Locate in Kent, an organisation offering a wide variety of services and assistance to firms aiming to locate in the region. As well as providing a visible point of contact on the show floor, many of these organisations will be sharing their expertise via the show’s extensive free seminar programme.

The ‘Production, Tooling & Machinery’ area of the show provides perhaps the most popular single attraction, giving visitors the opportunity to see the latest offerings from many of the UK’s top vendors in operation. Well-known names such as Haas Automation, Mazak, Dugard and Mills CNC return for 2020. Hurco will be displaying the versatile and streamlined Hurco VM10i machining centre and the Hurco TM8i 2-axis CNC lathe. XYZ Machine Tools will show its Robo-Tend robot-based automation cell, demonstrated attached to an XYZ 750 LR VMC. Also, on show will be a demonstration of simultaneous 5-axis machining on the XYZ UMC-5X, and the latest ProtoTrak control system being demonstrated on an RMX 3500 bed mill and an RLX 355 ProTurn lathe.

Returning to Southern after a number of year’s break, Trumpf will be exhibiting its broad range of sheetmetal fabrication machinery and industrial lasers, in addition to 3D printing systems, power tools and electronics. Boxford will be displaying a recent addition in its portfolio of C02 laser cutting and engraving machines, together with a new, fibre laser marking system, the BFM110 Fibre Marking Laser, a compact but powerful bench top machine capable of marking a wide selection of metals, coated metals as well as some non-metals.

Leading-edge examples

Advanced manufacturing is, of course, a topic of vital importance to aerospace and Southern 2020 provides plenty of leading-edge examples. Once such instance will be found on the Matsuura Machinery stand; a single table 5-axis MX-520 CNC machine tool using fixtures and workholding printed on the HP Multi-Jet Fusion 4200 3D printer, demonstrating the possibilities of hybrid additive and subtractive production strategies. Visitors can also see live 3D colour printing on the HP Jet Fusion 580 and discuss its capabilities with a team of 3D experts. New products being presented by Laser Lines this year include the XM200C metal powder-bed fusion 3D printer from Xact Metal. The XM200C is a compact and affordable system that can produce quality metal parts from a variety of metal powders at a low cost. Also demonstrated will be the new Method 3D printer from MakerBot that combines the speed and accuracy of an industrial 3D printer with the space-saving design of a desktop unit, plus the latest Form 3 3D printer from Formlabs. CREAT3D will be showing the latest additive manufacturing technology from Nexa3D. One of the printer’s key features is its print speed, printing up to 1 Z cm per minute. Rapid 3D print technology enables tool-less, low volume batch production or the ability to rapidly iterate a dozen designs in a single day.

The variety of other technologies and products on show is simply staggering, covering everything from consumables and workshop essentials to the latest ERP/MRP software and high-tech metrology and inspection systems. Blum will be showing the latest software advances for its recently introduced Digilog probe series, designed to bring the integration and everyday use of fully automated solutions within reach of even the smallest of CNC machining companies. Faro highlights its recently launched 8-axis Quantum ScanArm, which integrates an eighth axis into the company’s Quantum FaroArm to make, it’s claimed, the world’s first 8-axis portable co-ordinate measuring machine (PCMM). When combined with the company’s Blu Laser Line probe or Prizm Laser Line probe, it becomes a 3D laser scanning system.

Southern Manufacturing takes place at the Farnborough International Exhibition Centre

Subcontract services are another important aspect of the show, and here again the variety of specialisms on show is extremely broad. Many of the vendors exhibiting are AS9100 accredited with substantial aerospace experience in a wide variety of disciplines from precision engineering, composites and advanced plastics to wiring, electronics and testing. The show is also a great place to source components, including C-class and electronics from some of Europe’s largest distributors, to specialist hydraulic components from firms such as Lee Products and CEJN UK.

As alluded to earlier, the show’s free seminar programme is another powerful reason to mark visitor’s diaries, with an impressive line-up of presenters addressing many of the key issues facing manufacturers today.

Award winning author of Staying Lean, creator of the Lean Iceberg Model together with partner at S.A. Partners, Gary Griffiths, will discuss how organisations have successfully delivered results for their business by embedding as well as sustaining Lean and Continuous Improvement. Kevin Askew of GoPrint3D reviews the additive manufacturing landscape together with the applications of the technology, from prototype to end-use parts. Steven Barr together with Ravi Gidoomal of Edge Digital Manufacturing discuss how to develop a digital roadmap for your business as well as identify the right digital technologies to maximise value. Dr Chris Robertson discusses Life after Brexit – What next in trade relations & product regulation, while Rob Goddard, engineering director, Surrey Satellite Technology will take an illuminating look at the likely evolution of the economics of space over the next 30 years.