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Experience counts at Amtek Precision Engineers

Amtek Precision Engineers is a company renowned for the production of high precision multi-cavity caps and closures injection mould tools and complex CNC components. Committed to the long-term quality of the work we carry out for a varied customer base we recently celebrated our 30th anniversary. And, it’s not just the company that is dedicated to the long-term as many of our highly skilled staff have also reached key milestones.

Originally established in 1984, today Amtek Precision Engineers occupies an impressive 21,000 ft2 facility in Totnes, Devon. The knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff at the company, many of which have completed toolmaking apprenticeships with local engineering companies, have remained with Amtek, growing with the business.

Long service achievers include Neil Rutley, Senior Toolmaker and Design Engineer, with 30 years’ service; Mike Lawes, Production Manager, who celebrates 20 years with Amtek; and the ‘newbies’ Michael Spalding and Matt North-Gatfield, Quality Inspector and Toolmaker & CNC programmer (specialist in milling) respectively, have both completed 10 years’ service with Amtek.

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Neil Rutley recalls why he chose to work in precision engineering: “When I started in a large company I worked in every section. The last year of my apprenticeship was in the R&D department, which meant I spent most of my time in the toolroom, some years later when they closed the R&D section I decided to find a new job as a toolmaker, and to this day I am proud to call myself a toolmaker.

 

Speaking of the key changes he has noticed during his career he says: “Today it is much more about CNC machining. The Toolroom I served my time in had no CNC, now most of the work relies on CNC technology.”

 

Mike Lawes, who always had an interest in engineering as both his grandfathers were engineers, agrees: “When I started we had around 20 machines, three of which were CNC. Now we have more machines and more space, but the ratio of CNC to manual has gone the other way.”

 

The move from manual machining to CNC is also noted by Matt North-Gatfield, “there were no CNC machines at my first engineering company” he says. He also points to newer and better cutting tool technology, while Michael Spalding is keen to highlight the advantages of machine tool technology and software. “Spark erosion has allowed intricate shapes not previously possible and CAD/CAM software permits flowing curves instead of simple geometric shapes,” he states.

 

Job variety and learning new skills is important for staff at Amtek but they all agree that one of the most satisfying elements of the work is finishing a mould-tool and seeing components come off the tool at the trial. “When a project runs smoothly from start to finish and the accuracy is kept in tolerance with complicated programs going as intended,” says Matt North-Gatfield. “That’s when the job looks good and measures right.”

 

So, with such an extensive experience within the industry, what would they say to any young person looking at a career in engineering? Neil Rutley says: “Look at engineering with an open mind; there are lots of different careers and there is always something for anyone with an interest in the industry.”

 

Michael Spalding states: “Don’t neglect your studies.” Mike Lawes adds: “Do your homework to see what sort of engineering best suits you, once you have done this try to find the company that will be able to offer you the best ongoing training.”

“It’s not easy,” Matt North-Gatfield says, “stick with it and your efforts will be rewarded with job satisfaction and good wages.”

 

Of course, these notable anniversaries are not rare at the company with around 75 per cent of the production team having been with Amtek for more than 10 years. Managing Director, Mike Jones, concludes: “There is no substitute for experience, and we have an excellent team here at Amtek. So much so that we have significantly tightened up our employment policy to ensure that, as we grow, we only add the very best people we can find to the team.”