Subcontractor upgrades press brake capacity

Bridport-based sheet metal subcontractor, Ackerman Engineering, has installed an Xpert 150-tonne, 3.1 m press brake from Bystronic.

The move adds to the six Bystronic models already on site, one of which dates back to 2001 and is badged Edwards Pearson, which the Swiss manufacturer acquired in 2002.
Managing director Graham Ackerman is particularly impressed with the latest Bystronic Xpert 150, for which he has bought a comprehensive suite of the manufacturer’s RF-A segmented tooling. He says it is twice as fast to set up compared with older style tooling, as the punch and die segments are automatically centred when loaded from the front and hydraulically clamped.
Moreover, the system is fully compatible with the Bystronic bending database in the machine control, and it is practically impossible to insert an incorrect tool due to laser beam recognition of its profile. Part quality is also improved, especially when bending long components, as there are no witness marks where the tool segments meet and there is no need for shimming.
Ackerman says: “Today we have 34 staff working at Bridport, including a fifth generation Ackerman, my son Edward. By the time he takes over the business, with our policy of constant reinvestment, we will have grown further. There is plenty of room for expansion on our current site. The purchase of highly productive production plant like the Bystronic machines will be key to our continued success.”
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Rifle maker shoots to success with ITC

Many people will have fired a rifle, but for Robert Nibbs it has been a lifelong passion that evolved from childhood enthusiasm, through professional career, to the founding of a high-end rifle manufacturing business. Since joining his first rifle club at the age of 14, Nibbs has immersed himself in the sport, representing Team GB during his career. For the past 26 years, he has proudly been making rifles of distinction and precision.

Located in rural Somerset, Nibbs runs a small business that designs, manufactures, builds and sells high-end target and professional rifles. As an SME, the company relies on a blend of innovative manufacturing techniques and productive processes – it is here that Industrial Tooling Corporation (ITC) Ltd has stepped into the sights of this progressive company.
At the end of 2017, Nibbs was having tool life issues when producing a component from 303 stainless steel. Existing solid-carbide end mills were struggling to cope with the skin on the stainless and the intermittent machining process. Applying an existing solid-carbide end mill, the business could only produce 25 parts prior to tool failure. This limited tool life resulted in increased tool costs, and inconvenient and repeated tool changes.
Recalling the introduction of ITC cutting tools, Nibbs says: “I was familiar with the ITC brand and I made an enquiry via their website. They subsequently came in to review the stainless steel components and we haven’t looked back since. ITC’s engineers initially trialled the Widia M1200HF high-feed face mill, but this was a little too aggressive for the machine parameters. We moved to the Widia M200 button end mills and the results have been exceptional.”

The 40 mm diameter Widia M200 button mill cutter with WP25-PM grade inserts instantly ramped up productivity and decreased tooling costs. Commenting on this first installation, ITC’s Matt White says: “The M200 increased the feed rate from 0.1 mm/tooth to 0.3 mm/tooth, cutting the cycle time by more than 50%. For all of his machining processes, Robert would use a Microloc work-holding system to set up to 20 parts in a single cycle; the M200 slashed the cycle time from over one hour, to 35 minutes. This would give him valuable time to leave the machine running while he moved to other tasks, knowing that the tooling would finish the cycle intact.”
Tool costs and changeovers were also reduced, as White recalls: “The previous solid-carbide end mills would need to be replaced after 30 components. However, the
40 mm diameter M200 featuring four insert seats has six edged double-sided inserts with a location lug for precision indexing. This reduced tool changeovers and set-ups drastically, but more important was the reduced tooling costs. Each edge of the inserts could achieve the same performance as the previous solid-carbide end mill; but with 12 edges the M200 is 12 times more cost efficient. Machining to a 2 mm depth of cut, we suggested that Robert use the Widia M1200 for finishing operations. Applying a 0.2 mm depth of cut, the M1200 has machined over 300 parts without changing an insert edge to date.”
The success of the Widia face milling tools opened the door to trial other ITC products on Nibbs’ Haas VF2- SSYT thee-axis machining centre.
“We introduced the Widia 49N9 solid carbide three-flute rougher to the profiling of pockets on 6082-T6 grade chassis sections,” says Nibbs. “Previously we used solid carbide end mills from two well-known brands with limited success.”

Then Tom Lindley, ITC area sales engineer, suggested running the WIDIA 49N9 at 12,000rpm and just shy of 8 m/min at full 24 mm depth of cut with a 10 mm step-over; each parameter at least 50% greater than the previous tools.
“I was very apprehensive, but the Widia tool cut through the aluminium like a hot knife through butter,” states Nibbs. “Processing the roughing operation at double the speed and feed parameters of the previous tools, and with manageable chip size, the Widia 49N9 contributed to reducing the overall cycle time of rifle butt components. This high-speed machining operation reduced the chassis blank from 4.1 to 1.7 kg in 75 just seconds.”
The success of the Widia face mill and solid-carbide end mills gave Nibbs the confidence in the application expertise of ITC’s Lindley and White and, moreover, the quality of the products applied. This confidence opened the door for more ITC innovations to be introduced.
Since the initial introduction, company now utilises ITC 2041 and 2052 solid-carbide square-end tools, as well as 3041, 3051, 2201 and 3081 corner radius end mills on aluminium parts. Offering another example of the productivity gains from ITC’s cutters for aluminium, Nibbs says: “We used to manufacture aluminium thumb wheel adjustors in three minutes with our previous tooling supplier and machine, but the investment in the Haas machining centre and ITC’s 3081 radius end mill for profiling the thumb wheels has reduced the cycle time to 45 seconds, a 75% cycle time improvement. Likewise, the three-flute, 20 mm diameter 3051 series with 0.5 mm radius, and the 10 mm diameter 3041 series with 3 mm radius, have both made similar improvements on a scope stand project while generating excellent surface finishes.”
Referring to this influx of ITC products, Nibbs continues: “The rifles consist of over 30 major components and a huge variety of smaller parts. There is a complete range of rifle variants with three different stock configurations for a multitude of action types, and then surface finish options and colours.”
For profiling stainless steel components, Robert Nibbs has introduced ITC’s 4777 solid-carbide end mills in 10 and 16 mm diameters. With regard to hole-making, the Widia VDS series of drills has been successfully implemented in combination with the TTMM range of ITC mini thread mills.

“I’ve not had any ITC tools that haven’t achieved what the engineers have said they would do,” says Nibbs. “As a small business owner, I don’t have time to endlessly trial new tools in the hope of achieving success, so the recommendations and results of ITC tools have been invaluable. In just 12 months, I have changed out the majority of tooling and ITC now supplies almost 90% of our tools. This is down to the results and the service, support and technical solutions that have improved the productivity of my business by at least 30% in the past year.”
Producing more than 50 rifles each year that are accurate up to 2000 yards (1829 m), Nibbs says the rifles are instruments of true precision: “During my professional career, I spent 40 hours training every week. It is the years of training and a lifetime spent working with rifles that sets my business and products apart and puts them in the very top echelon of the market. A precision rifle is all about balance, not weight; the balance and the recoil action are what sets high-end rifles apart. Controlling the recoil action and efficiently using the energy expended from the action to benefit the user is all about the application of physics. To continually develop and enhance rifles is something that requires considerable design and development effort. By introducing ITC to my business and reducing my production times, I now have more time to spend on designing and trialling new components and techniques.”
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Combination lathe brings flexibility

Cheshire Seals & Components Ltd (Cheshire Seals), based in Warrington, has recently extended its workshop capacity with a new Harrison Alpha 1550XS manual/CNC lathe from Colchester Machine Tool Solutions.

Managing director Paul Wallace says: “We had an existing Colchester centre lathe which had been very useful to us, but we needed the machining flexibility that the Alpha could bring. We bought plenty of extra kit for the Alpha and from day one it’s been put through its paces. The machine is performing well and is certainly earning its money.”
Cheshire Seals is a family-run, independent manufacturer of machined parts in a wide variety of materials, ranging from aluminium to zirconium, taking in duplex stainless steels and nickel alloys, and many exotic metals, through to plastics and rubbers for seal manufacture. The company also takes initial customer design concepts and converts them into fully finished products, whether it’s a one-off prototype or a full production run.
Wallace adds: “We looked at other CNC machines but felt that the flexibility of the Alpha lathe and its various modes of operation within the Fanuc system were strong factors in our decision. We find that the machine torque is excellent for cutting harder materials, while the lathe has significantly improved our cutting and program creation times by using ISO programming and the eight-station turret.”
The 2 m between-centres Harrison Alpha 1550XS has a swing over bed of 554 mm and a 104 mm spindle bore. A large 15 kW motor allows spindle speeds up to 2000 rpm.
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Mastercam 2019 Lathe unveiled

From accepting and programming any CAD file, to dynamic roughing and precision finishing, Mastercam 2019 Lathe from CNC Software provides a variety of techniques to turn parts as required. Available in the UK from 4D Engineering, Mastercam 2019 Lathe features a newly developed tool designer, turn-mill environments and multiple plunge functionality.

Tools can be built from 3D STEP models using the software’s tool designer, which is a function panel with tab-style navigation that provides a structured workflow similar to using a wizard. Users can define tools, assign them to operations, and view them when running ‘Classic Backplot’ and Mastercam Simulator.
Mastercam 2019 allows lathe users to run select turn-mill machine environments. Here, operators can experience automated job set-up and part transfer, full machine simulation, and simplified programming of C/Y-axis toolpaths.
A further newly developed feature is the lathe groove toolpath, which includes a multiple plunge option that permits users to rough-out a groove with rib cuts. Consistent tool pressure can result in better chip control and more even tool wear. Multiple plunge gives the option to machine ribs with a more aggressive feed rate than in initial plunges.
Additional functions of Mastercam 2019 Lathe include improved support for cross-centerline turning, and full integration of the PrimeTurning toolpath strategy from Sandvik Coromant.
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Five Miyano machines installed

Burnett & Hillman has become a ‘brand name’ in its role as a major manufacturer of hydraulic adaptors and associated fittings that it supplies into around 90% of the world’s countries with a known customer base that exceeds 1000 names.

In addition, parts are sold through significant numbers of distributors and stockists. The company’s standard range includes over 4500 different machined parts, of which 99% are held in stock for next-day delivery. While its machine shop processes some 40,000 components a day, consuming 200 tonnes of mild steel a month, these contribute to a massive year-on-year tally of over 10 million individual machined parts, of which a quarter are exported.
Nestling in the Somerset village of Wrington, this family-owned business still uses multi-spindle automatics to meet its larger volumes. However, for smaller demands and batch sizes, typically from 1 to 250, a progressive addition to the production capability has been the installation of turn-mill centres, including five Miyano multi-axis machines from Citizen Machinery UK.
Following the reliable and consistent performance capability obtained from the first 12-axis Miyano ABX-51TH3 fixed-head turn-mill centre with two spindles and three all-driven 12-station tool turrets, three further smaller capacity Miyano BNA-42GTY machines arrived in 2015 and 2017, while in October 2018, the fourth BNA-42GTY was commissioned. The company has invested some £500,000 over the past two years.
Says general manager Dan Burnett: “We face ever increasing demands for non-standard parts, smaller batches and in-house store top-ups. Due to the demanding specification requirements of customers, quality is the prime requisite, followed by delivery.”
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