Innovations in bespoke diamond tooling

DK Holdings has helped Curley Specialised Mouldings achieve continuous improvement within their production processes
DK Holdings has helped Curley Specialised Mouldings achieve continuous improvement within their production processes

DK Holdings’ sales manager, John Emptage and one of the company’s long-standing partners, Curley Specialised Mouldings’ Ian Curley, discuss how both companies have worked in partnership for over 60 years and what they see as the future challenges for the composite industry over the coming years.

The Composite industry’s landscape has changed vastly over the past decade with diamond tooling specialist, DK Holdings continuously developing its range to maintain the high-quality standard its global customer base has been accustomed to, while adapting to new composite materials used across the various industries within the sector.

John, let’s start with you; can you tell us a bit more about DK Holdings?

“DK Holdings is a world-leading manufacturer of off-the-shelf and bespoke diamond tooling solutions across the composite manufacturing sector in industries such as aerospace, automotive and defence, as well as the emerging renewable energy sectors, manufacturing out of our ISO-accredited production facilities. Our team’s extensive technical knowledge has been driven by addressing the individual requirements of our clients, such as Curley Specialised Mouldings, helping them to achieve continuous improvement within their production processes. DK Holdings’ diamond tooling provides solutions to the most challenging of situations with our expertise matched by the ability to design and manufacture bespoke engineered products to suit our global customers’ requirements.”

Ian, please give us an overview of how it all started with Curley Specialised Mouldings.

“Curley Specialised Mouldings was established by my father, Reg Curley, in 1958 who started the business by manufacturing fibre glass motorcycle fairings, tanks and seats for his race team, which quickly grew into supplying pretty much everyone who raced motorbikes at the time.

DK Holdings continuously develops its range to maintain a quality standard for its customer base
DK Holdings continuously develops its range to maintain a quality standard for its customer base

Nowadays we manufacture anything and everything in fibre glass or carbon fibre, from car seats for the automotive and motorsport industries, to camper van pop-up roofs and even car bodies for motion pictures such as ‘FAB 1’, the bright pink Ford which featured in the 2004 Thunderbirds Movie, driven by Parker, Lady Penelope’s chauffeur.

Curley Specialised Mouldings also continues to have a huge association with the motorsport industry, manufacturing all body mouldings for the NAPA British Touring Car Championship team.

I joined my father as a young lad and continued to rely on DK Holdings and their range of diamond tools, as well as their team’s invaluable advice on what diamond tool is best for the varied composite materials we mould.”

Ian, how have composite materials changed over the past 10 years and where do you think the industry is heading?

“The industry has got huge growth potential with composites being used in nearly everything now. A lot of our work is within the motorsport industry. I’m a keen racing driver myself and I am known to work on my mini regularly to make it more lightweight without compromising on safety. The composition of the race seats we manufacture for example is continuously being developed with the overall aim for most of our customers for these to be light and strong, which requires a lot of experimentation with the resins we use. Carbon has very much become the material of choice in the motorsport industry and is now more and more prevalent in commercial vehicle production as well.

John, how about DK Holdings, where do you think your diamond tooling solutions can add the most value?

“As a manufacturer providing diamond tooling solutions to this evolving industry, we are always keen to work with customers like Ian. Their bespoke tooling needs are a challenge our technical team gladly undertakes. Composite materials are extremely abrasive and can be very hard as the end product needs to be strong and durable, such as the race seats or panels Ian produces. Conventional tooling tends to wear out too quickly and fail prematurely, making production runs longer and more costly.

An example of DK Holdings’ bespoke diamond tooling solutions
An example of DK Holdings’ bespoke diamond tooling solutions

It’s great to work with Ian and his team, developing bespoke diamond tools for a variety of materials, such as fibre glass in the early days and now laminates and carbon fibre materials. The knowledge and expertise gained through working with long-term partners like Curley Specialised Moulding is invaluable to us and can be used to solve challenges in other applications within the industry, helping us to continuously review and evolve our diamond tooling. 

Ian, what does the future of your partnership hold?

One of the biggest challenges for Curley Specialised Moulding is to ensure that when trimming a part, it’s done precisely and delivers a clean result. As John said, composite materials are extremely abrasive which can lead to an untidy finish requiring additional work which can be costly. We’ve used DK Holdings electroplated diamond tools for over 60 years and will continue to do so as they are the best in the market to do the job and are manufactured to our exact specifications. Any challenge we present to DK’s technical team is taken on and fulfilled, they really are a trusted partner.”

We are also looking at robots to work in unison with humans to ensure precision trimming of composite materials in larger quantities. There’s a fair bit of research going on, and I’m hoping to have something in place rather sooner than later. DK Holdings is very much a part of this automation, as I know I can rely on their support and high-quality manufacturing of a diamond tooling solution tailored to my needs.

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