Companies collaborate to build Paul McCartney guitar tribute

Diamond Precision Engineering was tasked with making a giant guitar to mark the 80th birthday of Sir Paul McCartney. The company used Lantek Expert software to nest and programme its two Mazak fibre lasers.

Impressive installation

Paul McCartney first acquired his iconic Hofner bass guitar, specifically a 1961 500/1 model, from a music store in Hamburg, Germany in 1961. The replica project was to commemorate Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday in June this year. The impressive installation at the entrance to the Beatles Story Museum at Albert Docks in Liverpool is 4m long and is made from 6mm thick steel sheet, laser cut at Diamond’s Birkenhead factory.

The company uses Lantek Expert software to nest and programme its two Mazak fibre lasers – an Optiplex 4020 and an Optiplex Nexus 3015 – and prepare quotations for its customers. The company branched out into laser cutting in 2014, complementing its 30 years of CNC machining and general engineering.

Director of Diamond’s Laser Division, Oliver Pitt, comments: “With Lantek Expert we can import CAD data, nest parts in full sheets and remnants, generating the fibre laser cut path in a matter of seconds. On the laser cutting side of the business the company makes parts for many applications such as the railway industry, commercial vehicles and bespoke signs.”

Design considerations

Simon Armstrong of Liverpool-based Design Laser Play was commissioned to design the guitar to fit in with the budget for the project and a tight timescale for unveiling. Design considerations revolved around fitting the installation into a restricted site right next to the entrance to the museum while maintaining safety for the public and meeting the cost and timescale limitations.

“Albert Docks, where the museum is located, is a popular venue in Liverpool and is busy all the time,” Mr Armstrong explains. “Because of this, we firstly wanted to discourage people from climbing on the structure so we minimised foot and hand holds in the design. This cannot be entirely prevented, so it also had to be strong and stable enough to take the weight of anyone that does decide to climb on it. Similarly, we had to ensure there were no sharp edges.”

After discussions between Simon Armstrong and Oliver Pitt, the thickness of the material was increased to 6mm and all edges were rolled. Most of the weight is in the base supporting the guitar and it is also bolted to the ground to ensure stability.

Rapid, accurate quotations

To calculate the cost of the guitar project, Diamond Precision used its Lantek Integra Quotes and CRM system. This keeps track of around 500 different customers including historic quotation information as well as details of previous jobs.

It connects to the Lantek Nesting module in Lantek Expert so when generating a quotation it knows how much material will be used and also how long the laser cutting process will take. As part of the quotation, the system also includes other processes such as welding, painting and bending as well as subcontracted operations, recording a breakdown of the times for each element of manufacture, greatly speeding up and simplifying the whole process.

Oliver Pitt says: “We have a management system which works well for our machining and general engineering business but we discovered that it wasn’t particularly suitable for fast moving laser cutting jobs, so we spoke to Lantek to find a solution.”

Diamond Precision has five people generating quotes for laser cut parts and needs to produce around 400 quotes every month. Speed and accuracy are of utmost importance as there is a correlation between these factors and the chances of getting the job.

“Moving over to Lantek Integra Quotes has made a dramatic time saving,” Mr Pitt affirms. “Previously, we were continually double handling data, wasting effort and increasing the chance of human error. We are now looking at expanding our Lantek Integra system for fast invoicing and analysis of manufacturing performance. Lantek software has generated some dramatic improvements for us.”

This news item is an edited version of the original story published by Production Engineering Solutions.

Contact: Adam Ball