Croft's experts use a combination of traditional and hybrid manufacturing techniques to create unique metal parts. (Image: Rob Watkins/Croft Filters)

Rob recently won his fourth Amateur Photography Award from the EEF and his winning entry, ‘Hemispheres’', which is featured on the cover of this magazine, is of an engineer welding together two halves of a cylindrical screen filter at Croft's facility. These screens are critical components in the recycling industry, commonly used to help in the production of PC/ABS (Polycarbonate/Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) pellets out of shredded waste and electrical equipment.
 
Winning images
 
The Amateur Photography Award is organised by EEF, the organisation that represents the British manufacturing industry. Its annual photography competition, now in its seventh year, aims to illustrate Britain's dynamic manufacturing community and showcase the numerous new advances in the sector and the products being developed.
 
Over the last five years, more than 3,000 images have been entered into the competition for a number of categories, with Rob winning the Amateur Photography Award in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. Rob says that for him, photography is more than just a hobby, it's a true passion and added: “I'm happy that my working environment allows me to capture the true essence of British filter manufacturing.”

 

Neil Burns, director of Croft Filters, said: “Our products are made locally using a combination of expert craftsmanship and advanced technology. Rob's photos showcase this and present a unique representation of British manufacturing that few will ever have seen before. Everyone at Croft is extremely proud of Rob and we're delighted that EEF has, once again, recognised him as being one of the very best amateur photographers within the industrial sector.”
 
 
Marketing manager and amateur photographer, Rob Watkins, has been able to capture the metal components from an original perspective. (Image: Rob Watkins/Croft Filters)
 
Bespoke filtration
 
Now in its 30th year of operation, Croft supplies companies in a wide variety of industries around the world, helping them increase operational efficiency and productivity. As a business, its principal objective is to ensure it is constantly working to provide its customers with bespoke solutions that meet their individual needs.
 
Over the last few years, the technology used in machinery has advanced considerably, and there has been a greater level of demand for customised filtration components that meet very specific needs of the desired application. Using traditional means of manufacture, more complex filters can be difficult and costly to produce, especially when it comes to larger volumes. With this in mind, making use of filters that have been produced through additive manufacturing (AM) processes is a growing trend, due to a number of practical benefits.
 
Sister company
 
Croft founded sister company, Croft Additive Manufacturing (CAM) in 2013 to extend the scope of its offering and provide state-of-the-art metal additive manufacturing opportunities to its customers. Using the North West's first SME-owned Realizer SLM-250 metal 3D printing machine, CAM's in-house team offers original, flexible product design, consultation and manufacturing services.
 
The company recently developed the Straightliner Filter, which was created using additive manufacturing. The filter's distinctive design, which features holes orientated in the direction of flow, offers a 10% reduction in pressure drop and resistance. This level of performance cannot be achieved using traditional manufacturing methods, as the apertures in the woven wire mesh would distort, changing the filter's size, shape and functionality. The reduction in pressure delivers significant energy and cost savings.
 
 
A pair of bespoke manufactured stainless steel and aluminium filters, made at Croft Filters Ltd. These are used to separate leaves from flowers by tumbling them in a rotating drum. (Image: Rob Watkins/Croft Filters)
 
Customer challenges
 
As each product Croft creates is entirely bespoke, it has created a specialised development programme, working with its clients from concept to completion. The company's engineering experts work with potential customers to understand their business needs and design an appropriate solution. By using metal additive manufacturing alongside traditional subtractive techniques, Croft is able to offer an exceptional portfolio of products to address any challenges they may face.