Company Profile: Barnshaw Steel Bending

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Company Profile Curved steel boosts creative design Steel bending specialists have invested in research and development for new equipment that is giving designers greater freedom to express their creativity using curved steel. Nick Barrett visits market leader Barnshaws Steel Bending. Reverse bends in the Not only is Barnshaws the biggest steel bending is suitable for bending,” says Barnshaw. “Some same section can be company in the world, it can now do the biggest imported steel for example is presented as High created to reduce the welded joints. A straight bends thanks to investment in developing new Grade, but what they do to make it high grade section in between the equipment. Architects and engineers can now sometimes makes it harder to bend.” curves is usually needed. routinely use curved steel in ways which were Barnshaws today employs about 200 at its six UK not possible 10 years ago, thanks to advances in sites and turns over some £12M for a surprisingly bending technology. large number of customers — 4,000 live accounts Investment by companies like Barnshaws means at the moment — ranging from Corus through to that bends are more economical than ever before fabricators of all sizes to manufacturers of mirror — a bend for a rafter might cost only £65. The frames and napkin rings. “It is amazing who needs same investments mean that the highest quality steel to be bent to precise tolerances, but the is now routine, with bend tolerances to ± 2mm. structural steelwork industry offers us our biggest Joints and welds are increasingly disappearing as challenges,” says Barnshaw. curves become more common. “Curving is often The turnover from bending has remained less expensive than cut and weld,” says Managing relatively static in recent years but the demand Director Craig Barnshaw. from construction has risen as other customers, “We take on the difficult jobs, for example such as manufacturers of gear casings, have moved putting six or seven bends in a single sheet. A lot production from the UK to Eastern Europe. of fabricators can do the simpler jobs themselves, Barnshaws undertakes section and tube and but none have the capability that we have with our hollow section bending as well as universal beam machines. We start where most fabricators have cambering, tee splitting and straightening, press to finish, because we have the tooling. We can braking and shearing, and plate rolling. Aluminium bend anything that Corus makes.” For the tightest extrusions can also be curved and Barnshaws bends Barnshaws insists on using Corus steel for Specialist Profiles Division cuts shapes for quality reasons. “Not everything that people source architectural supports, stiffeners or features. 14 NSC April 2005


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