New 4,000 tonne press for Sheffield Forgemasters

Published: 19 February 2008

Sheffield Forgemasters has placed a £6m order for a brand new hydraulic forging press to meet international demand for its forged steel products.

The 4,000 tonne press is due to be operational in Autumn 2008 and will complement the company's 2,500 and 10,000 tonne presses enabling the 200-year-old engineering giant to fulfil its largest ever order book.

Forgemasters is feeding unprecedented demand for its high-specification open-die forgings which are used across the world in power production, steel manufacturing, offshore, civil nuclear and defence industries.

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters said: "The new press is a landmark development for us and will make a significant change to our current forging output.

"Our other two presses are working at full capacity to feed demand and as the new equipment will fit production runs for medium sized forgings, it will take a substantial load off of both existing presses.

"This will enable us to use the 2,500 tonne press, which has stood the test of time since it was originally installed in 1897, for smaller pieces and the 10,000 tonne press for larger forgings. This is increasingly important as we are now forging the largest ingots ever produced in the UK at 300 tonnes each."

Sheffield Forgemasters' 2,500 tonne press played a key role in providing crucial defence components during the Second World War, including parts for Hurricane, Lancaster and Spitfire aircraft.

Its history is remarkable as it was first operational in the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and has since been converted from steam to hydraulic power and modified to handle a more demanding workload.

The year of its installation was also the year that the electron was discovered, the first ever steam turbine powered vessel reached 34.5 knots and the Cathode Ray Tube was invented. Bram Stoker's Dracula was initially published in 1897 and Britain had around 400,000 horse-drawn carriages serving the public.

In order to house the new press, engineering teams at the Brightside Lane site need to build new furnaces and overhead cranes to feed the press and will install a remotely operated hydraulic manipulator to manoeuvre and hold the ingot during the forging process.