Holding fuel rods in the nuclear industry
When workholding is critical to your process you need to deal with people who understand it fully. BNFL turned to UEW to provide a solution suitable for handling their client's fuel rods. We were commissioned to supply a special system that would hold Zircalloy fuel rod cans whilst they were filled with fuel pellets and then capped prior to welding. The cans were around 12.5mm to 25mm dia with 0.5mm wall thickness, and made of a soft metal, so were easily deformed. They needed to be gripped 100mm from one end whilst a 6KN axial load was applied during the interference fit capping process - without deforming or even marking the surface! An extremely difficult specification to meet.
UEW suggested an air operated, twin-acting collet chuck arrangement and successfully designed and manufactured 5 units, which are now in use at the Thorpe reprocessing plant. We also produced custom collets for each design.
Contract value: around £160k