WTI Fasteners Ltd has recently announced the addition of KATO tangless wire inserts to its range, after agreeing a distribution agreement with Advanex.
Established in 1989, WTI Fasteners has become a key manufacturer and supplier of wire inserts – with 60% of its products being sold overseas to high precision companies, as well as to the automotive, aerospace and other key markets. “Most of the manufacturers in our sector are multinationals or owned by large companies,” explains Jo Mason, managing director at WTI Fasteners. “As a small independent manufacturer, we are able to support our wide range of products with a flexible service to meet our customers’ needs. Becoming an official distributor for KATO is another example of us developing our capabilities.”
WTI Fasteners has already supplied tangless inserts for a number of years but wanted to partner with Advanex and become an official distributor of the KATO brand. “Adding KATO will enable us to further develop our already extensive range of wire inserts, so we can provide a complete portfolio to our customers,” says Jo. “The tangless insert is almost identical to the wire insert we already produce, except it doesn’t have the driving tang on it. Typical applications include electronics – situations where removal of the tang is critical, and retrieval of the tang is important.”
Through its reliable products and services, as well as its ability to design and build its own machines, WTI Fasteners has become a key producer within the wire insert market and has developed a reputation as a reliable partner. “Thanks to the quality of our products and our competitive pricing, we have established a good reputation within the industry,” states Jo. “A key part of this has been the experience and knowledge of employees, which has helped us to develop and grow. A lot of our team have been with us for a long time, so they have grown with the company as it has developed. Thanks to their passion for the industry we have established a niche within the market.”
Another important part of WTI’s reputation is its AS9100 aerospace approval, with the company recently completing its transition assessment to Revision D. “Being able to quote the aerospace approval is very useful when customers ask about our quality,” mentions Jo. “It has definitely added value to our brand. The aerospace industry is very strict, so to be a company that is compliant is a real feather in our cap.”
Jo is keen to point out that whilst a wire insert may look like a simple product, it is quite technical. “You have to take a round piece of wire, form it into a diamond shape – which has to be precise in its form. Then you need to coil it and whatever diameter you need – with the smallest option 2mm – there is a critical tolerance, which is vital for the different applications it is being used. Wire inserts create a strong thread in materials such as aluminium, where it is usually performing an important function. They may be small parts, but they can add a lot of value to customers’ components.”
In addition, across international markets there are different trends and preferences on how the coils are formed. “Typically, we would manufacture closed coil inserts, but some customers prefer the products to be open coiled,” says Jo. “The ability to control the process, and the quality, during the production process is vital and that is what we can offer to customers.”
80% of WTI Fasteners’ production is for standard products, with the remaining 20% bespoke. For the future, Jo believes the demands for special parts will increase, with materials such as phosphor bronze and inconel becoming more popular. “More design engineers are specifying exotic materials. Typically inserts are made from A2 stainless steel. However, we have seen a lot of customers using A4 316 stainless steel, which has more corrosion resistance – making the products suitable for application where they are exposed to salt water and the elements,” explains Jo. “We are finding customers are tending to go for phosphor bronze where they don’t want magnetism. Although stainless steel isn’t magnetic, once you have formed it into a diamond, and then shaped it into a coil, it does become a little magnetic. We make sure we monitor these trends and react to what we see customers needing. We then look to introduce them as stock items rather than bespoke, so we can always offer them when a customer needs them.”
Through the experience within the company, WTI Fasteners can work with customers to make sure the right materials are used, as well as the ideal plating, to support the application. “One of the products we have always done is a wire insert nut, with a mild steel nut blank and a stainless steel insert,” points out Jo. “However, a customer approached us to see if we could put a silver plated stainless steel insert into a nut that was plated. We worked with the customer and provided what they needed.”
It is often the requirements of the customers and the development of the applications and materials that leads to innovation opportunities. “There is not much opportunity for innovation in the manufacturing of the wire insert,” mentions Jo. “It is the evolution of the applications that create new requirements, which leads to development – such as working in plastics and composites. With this in mind, we have spoken to one or two organisations with a view to working with them in order to see what the next generation of the wire insert might be and how it can be used.”
Another area of opportunity for the future is the technology for the installation of wire inserts. “Installing a wire insert is a manual process, there are electric tools, but as we are growing we are finding more companies are approaching us asking for fully automated processes,” explains Jo. “I think this is a topic that will be an opportunity and challenge for us – stepping outside our box to think about automating the installation process and making it easier for the customer.”
Making it easier for the customer is why WTI Fasteners also ensures it provides a complete service to the customer. “We often find customers need wire inserts urgently, such as when they have a machine down, so we have a wide variety of delivery options available, according to customers’ requirements,” points out Jo. “Our reputation as a business has been built on being able to send the products out quickly. Also, the fact we have a large range – all in stock – means we can also supply complete orders.”
With the addition of the new KATO range, WTI is focused on further development – especially targeting overseas markets. “The fact we have a little bit of water between us and the rest of Europe can be a challenge regarding delivery times,” concludes Jo. “However, we are strong in central Europe and we are doing very well in the Far East. Plus, there are plenty of markets we don’t currently supply, which means there are a lot of prospects. I think there is potential for growth in eastern Europe, as well as a few other key markets. It is a case of being ready for when the opportunity arrives and being able to react. We will keep a positive attitude and we will continue to supply high-quality products at the right price.”
Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.
Responsible for social media and the online platforms, Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.