Lathe control offers new functionality

Heidenhain’s top-of-the-range lathe control, the CNC Pilot 640 is now available with a number of new upgrades.

Most notably, a newly developed Turn Plus feature is now standard on new purchases. Turn Plus allows the creation of a lathe program at the push of a button, with up to 90% time savings, says Heidenhain.
The latest versions of the control software also include other improvements, such as added functional safety (FS) features and expansions that provide the machine operator and machine tool builder with more benefits.
Heidenhain’s CNC Pilot 640 contouring control allows five-axis simultaneous machining and combined turn-mill operations, full surface machining with B axis and counter spindle, as well as up to three channels for asynchronous multi-side machining.
Multi-touch operation permits swiping and zoom functions, while high-resolution 3D simulation graphics have been added. Machining operations with one or several set-ups (multi-channel operation) can be programmed separately through structured programming. The maximum number of controlled axes and spindles has been increased to 24 using appropriate options.
Heidenhain’s CNC Pilot 640 lathe control is available in two screen formats: 19“and 15.6“, with up to 25 configurable fields. The control also now works with Heidenhain’s display hand-wheels HR 520 (FS), and the HR 550 FS radio hand-wheel system. New CFRCompactFlash memory cards and SIKs are also available.
For those interested in connected machining, the CNC Pilot 640 can be incorporated into such systems by utilising the Heidenhain options Remote Desktop Manager (option 133) and StateMonitor for capturing machining data.
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Increasing productivity to meet demand

Unicut Precision invested over £1.5m in seven machine installations during late 2017, of which six were by Citizen Machinery UK.

The Citizen-supplied machines comprised two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed-head and four Cincom L12-VII sliding-head turn-mill centres, with one featuring Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) technology. This contribution to improve productivity targets has helped to make 2018 a clear sales record for the subcontractor, putting the firm well on target to hit sales of £5m this year.
Says managing director of the Welwyn Garden City based firm Jason Nicholson: “Our order book reflects our revised strategy to move from being a subcontract machinist – reacting to orders as they roll in – to one that continuously generates business from being a ‘supply partner’. In this role, we have a willingness to invest and align our production capability across the company to customer product and delivery needs.”
Unicut is shipping on average 1.2 million parts a month and processes 370 different product orders, of which a third is directly exported. In addition, as the company has moved forward, it has added the responsibility to provide some 30 different ‘direct-to-line’ assemblies and sub-assemblies to customers.
The decision to install two Miyano BNE-51MSY fixed-head machines followed the firm’s market review of twin-turret, two-spindle turn-mill centres. The discussions also included the replacement of sliding-head machines that were concluded with four Cincom L12-VII models arriving, of which one was specified with LFV cutting technology.
On the Citizen Cincom machines, the patented LFV technology is not based on changing macros at the CNC but on the initiation of selectable G-code sequences programmed at the machine control to impart the most appropriate size of chip to be produced.
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The UK’s largest vertical turning lathe

Sheffield Forgemasters has installed the UK’s largest five-axis vertical turning lathe (VTL) – manufactured by Spanish company BOST – as part of a £6m upgrade to its machining facilities that will improve capacity and throughput for complex machining requirements.

Commissioning of the VTL was attended by delegates from Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which helped to fund the VTL installation, alongside senior supply chain partners and officials from BOST and its UK supplier, McDowell Machine Tools.
David Bond, CEO, says: “The improvement to our machining facilities is of particular interest to customers in the defence industry as the VTL has superior accuracy and will significantly reduce lead times on delivery for crucial components, both for the UK and US submarine programmes. Our new VTL will also have significant implications for the machining of domed or cylindrical components, such as those required in the civil nuclear power market and pressure vessel sector.”
Weighing almost 250 tonnes, the BOST VTL required the removal of 6000 tonnes of earth and 3400 tonnes of concrete to create a foundation. The machine has a maximum machining height of 4 m, maximum swing diameter of 8.5 m, table weight capacity of 100 tonnes and embraces the Industry 4.0 strategies of process control, adaptive control and real-time interactive maintenance protocols.
Stuart McDowell, managing director at McDowell Machine Tools, says: “BOST hydrosphere machines offer the key benefits of being extremely heavy, rigid and powerful, yet are still capable of the highest levels of accuracy. This technology is a significant investment for Forgemasters and gives the company capability unrivalled in the UK and matched by only a handful of companies throughout the world.”
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Investment helps meet 20% growth in demand

A Christchurch-based subcontract machinist has invested in the latest CNC technology to help it meet a 20% growth in orders.

Peter Day Precision Engineers, which is part of the Venture Precision Engineering Group (VPEG), has installed a Nakamura WY150 from the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).
The twin-spindle, twin-turret configuration gives the company the ability to remove a lot of secondary operations, making the overall turning process quicker for customers.
“Our work is very much around manufacturing complex machined components that have to perform in demanding environments, whether that is for aerospace, oil and gas, or the medical sector,” explains general manager Pete Makosa. “Over the past 12 months we have witnessed a 20% increase in orders, which will see the wider VPEG group break through £10m turnover this year. This, combined with a strong pipeline of future orders, means we needed additional CNC turning capabilities, so we asked long-term supplier ETG to come up with a solution.
“Our first Nakamura, a super NTJ, was installed in 2010, so we know how reliable they are and the fact they offer fast metal removal rates while still holding tight limits,” he adds. “The WY150 is a very impressive machine and has the added benefits of being twin spindle and twin turret; that was a very big plus for us.”
Peter Day, which supplies components for blue-chip customers including Curtiss Wright, Planer, Armfield and Eaton, installed the new Nakamura in June and it is already having the desired impact of releasing capacity and meeting increased volumes generated by a clutch of contract wins.
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Growth matched with investment at LC Precision

Formed in 2013 when Lee Coles bought a one-man machining business, Weymouth-based LC Precision Engineering has achieved sales growth in excess of 600% over the past five years.

The company works across a variety of sectors, including defence, motorsport, nuclear and electronics, mainly focussing on work that could be produced on its three-, four- and five-axis vertical machining centres. To further develop its offer, the company has now invested in new turning capacity in the form of an XYZ SLX 1630 ProTurn lathe.
With five employees, including managing director Lee Coles, LC Precision Engineering may be a small business, but it has big ambitions. Over £175,000 has been spent on new equipment in the past two years.
The XYZ SLX 1630 ProTurn lathe is described by Coles as being “in a different league” when compared with his previous experience on manual lathes. While the SLX 1630 may be the entry point for ProTurn lathes, it comes with a cast bed and base, 400 mm swing over bed capacity, 760 mm distance between centres, and a 5.75 kW, 150-2500 rpm constant surface speed spindle.
The SLX ProtoTrak control was key in the decision by Coles to go with XYZ Machine Tools for his move into CNC turning: “The control system definitely sold the machine to us. We specialise in lower volume work with seven out of 10 jobs being one-offs. Therefore, the ability to easily programme complex forms and be confident that we will achieve a good part first time, every time – thanks to features like TRAKing and Do-One – makes a huge difference.”
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