Dawson Shanahan: 75 years at the forefront of cold forming

17 October 2018

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Dawson Shanahan: 75 years at the forefront of cold formingDawson Shanahan celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Starting out as a London-based engine reconditioner, the company now provides specialised, custom engineering services worldwide to almost every sector of industry from automotive to aviation, electronics and medical from its Welshpool factory. It employs more than 90 staff and exports 80 per cent of its production to over 40 countries.

Established by engineers, Edward Dawson and Fred Shanahan in 1943, Dawson Shanahan has pioneered many engineering solutions to problems including the use of precision cold-forming that reduced material by up to 80 per cent and machining time. Its innovative solution for Dunlop’s newly developed anti-lock braking system for heavy bombers was significant in improving the safe landing of the aircraft and pilot safety and lauded by the War Office.

The production of copper components for the first power semi-conductor devices and helping produce the world’s first needle-free drug delivery system using cold form are other notable firsts.

Commenting on the anniversary, Les Reeves, Joint Managing Director says: “This is a significant milestone and we’re incredibly proud of our heritage and achievements. We look forward to the next 75 years where we will continue to drive innovation and quality to keep UK engineering central on the world stage. Thank you to our staff, partners and customers for helping make us the success we are today.”

Dawson Shanahan is committed to developing the next generation of engineers to help shrink the engineering skills gap. It has set up a dedicated on-site training school as part of its apprenticeship programme supporting young people in qualifications from NVQ level to foundation degree. It also supports the Engineering Education Scheme Wales with their Girls into STEM programme.

More about Dawson Shanahan’s firsts:

  • Edward Dawson was the first engineer in the UK to import specialised boring bars and vacuum equipment from America. These allowed him to recondition automotive engine cylinders without removing the engine from the chassis, saving considerable time and costs.
  • Dawson Shanahan developed the unique process to manufacture precision components for Dunlop’s newly developed anti-lock braking systems for heavy bombers. Landing a heavy bomber was previously extremely demanding on the tyres and on the pilot, who couldn’t tell whether the wheels were locked. If they were the tyres could flat-spot and catch fire. The new system automatically detected wheel speed and applied brake pressure, making landings much safer. So important was the component that the UK Government sourced new lathes from the US to help Dawson carry out further development and wider implementation. Unfortunately the ship was torpedoed, and the lathes are still sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic.
  • It achieved a patent specification in 1947, testing the accuracy of connecting rods and the like of engines.
  • Robin Dawson (son of Edward Dawson) worked at Westinghouse and was involved in the development of the first semiconductor devices in Oxygen Free High Conductivity Copper. Dawson Shanahan developed cold forming and machining techniques to supply Westinghouse and grew rapidly during the 1970s as a result. Robin joined the company when Westinghouse relocated away from London.
  • It installed some of the first-ever machines in the UK including the Acroloc machine (1981) and CNC Anger HCS high-speed machining centre (1999).
  • In partnership with Zogenix, Dawson Shanahan helped produce the world’s first needle-free drug delivery system using cold forming.

Learn more about the company at

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