Established almost 50 years ago, Apeks has grown to become one of the world's most respected manufacturers of diving regulators. Now part of the Aqualung Group, the company operates from a purpose-built manufacturing facility in Blackburn, Lancashire, where its regulators are designed and manufactured.
With total control over the manufacturing process, Apeks has become the industry benchmark for regulator design, quality and performance. Apeks regulators were first to pass EN 250 (the European standard for regulators) and first to be awarded the CE Mark. The company is on the approved contractors list for the supply of diving equipment to armed forces around the world and supplies various emergency services, including coastguards, police and fire services.
In a sector where precision engineering, product quality and safety are paramount, Apeks has always clearly marked its regulators with a variety of user information. Today, this typically includes regulator model, CE mark, product serial number, direction of swivel and high-pressure ports.
With just a single laser marking machine on-site and a growing product range, in 2019 Apeks made the decision to invest in the latest lasering technology. "While clarity of marking was obviously essential, we wanted a machine that would also speed up the lasering process, offer the very latest capabilities and be sufficiently versatile to mark a wide range of components," comments Adam Mansfield, maintenance supervisor at Apeks.
Apeks has a wide range of components to mark
"We therefore invited a number of laser marking technology specialists to tender," he continues. "Only Technifor, however, took the trouble to visit us to discuss our requirements. They also brought along their specially equipped demonstration vehicle, so we could see first-hand the quality, clarity and speed of lasering provided by Technifor machines."
Following advice from Simon Tims, Technifor's technical sales engineer, Apeks chose a Technifor H20 (20-watt, hybrid) laser marking machine, equipped with a 3-D lens and rotary attachment and housed in a Technifor LW3 workstation. Before placing the order, however, Simon arranged for the Apeks team to visit a company that was using a similar Technifor model. "This was incredibly useful," says Adam Mansfield, "as we were able to see the machine in use and talk to the people who operate it on a daily basis."
The Technifor H20 laser machine was chosen by Apeks for its ability to precision-laser a wide range of materials, including metals and plastics. As a multi-purpose hybrid machine, the H20 offers a variety of marking effects, including contrasting, discreet, deep and surface marking.
This feature was seen as a significant benefit by Apeks, as it meant that in addition to marking safety and user information onto the plated brass and plastic components used in the company's regulators, it could also be used to apply aesthetic details and branding. Perhaps more significantly, however, the H20 machine's 3-D lens enabled marking of uneven surfaces, while rotary capability meant that cylindrical components could be marked in a single pass.
As Technifor's largest standard workstation, the LW3 was selected by Apeks for its ability to accept components in a wide range of sizes.
The rotary device allows to mark cylindrical components
"Our new Technifor H20/LW3 system was installed in under a day," adds Adam Mansfield, "after which, full staff training was given. From first contacting Technifor to installation and training, the whole process has gone extremely smoothly and the level of support we have received from Technifor has been exceptional. Even though the Technifor machine is extremely easy to use and has intuitive programming, Simon visited us just a few weeks after installation to make sure we were happy with everything. To be honest, he's been absolutely brilliant. He's never more than a phone call away should we require guidance and he clearly understands the importance of good customer service. With Technifor it's not simply about making a sale!"
Since installation, Apeks' new Technifor laser is bringing enhanced levels of speed, accuracy and capability to the regulator marking process. The company believes that the new machine will also enable it to more than double the quantity of regulator sets that it currently marks in a day.
Simon visited us just a few weeks after installation to make sure we were happy with everything. To be honest, he's been absolutely brilliant. He's never more than a phone call away should we require guidance and he clearly understands the importance of good customer service. With Technifor it's not simply about making a sale!
The Technifor UK team thanks Apeks for their time and testimony.