End-to-end tooling contract

Midlands-based Amco Group has been working hard throughout 2018 to strengthen its end-to-end plastic injection tooling proposition, due to customer demand.

The new offering has resulted in Amco’s recent contract to provide plastic injection mould tooling, tooling movement logistics and finished parts supply to the Morgan Motor Company. Amco is producing a tool for a plastic injection mould that will shape a three-piece plastic steering column shroud for the Plus Six model. The company will consolidate the tooling, production, transport and logistics into a single-source agreement.
For further information www.amcogroupservices.com

Sliding-head lathes promote growth

Since moving premises in Bicester at the beginning of 2015, subcontractor SRD Engineering has approximately trebled its turnover and headcount, a rate of growth that accelerated during 2018 due to the arrival of three new sliding-head (Swiss-type) CNC turning centres from Citizen Machinery.

Joining a 20 mm bar capacity Citizen Cincom L20 Type VII lathe installed in 2009, which helped the contract machining company to weather the recession, two further models for processing similar size stock were installed in March and August last year, followed by a 32 mm capacity machine in November. It is noteworthy that the decade-old lathe is currently running 24/7 and still holding tolerance well.
Precision machining is essential at the 18,000 sq ft Bicester factory, as 60% of the company’s business comes from the Formula One sector, with most of the remainder received from customers in the aerospace and electronics industries. Dimensional and concentricity tolerances down to 6 µm are held on some 50 to 60 mm long, 3 mm diameter components, for example.
To help achieve this level of accuracy reliably, even during unmanned running, all of the latest sliding-head lathes are equipped with Citizen’s LFV (low frequency vibration) functionality. The patented system allows the stringy swarf generated when machining aluminium, stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper and plastics to be broken into shorter chips, the length of which can be controlled by the cutting program.

Mark Bonham, joint managing director with his brother Paul of the 30 years established, family-owned company, says: “We had no hesitation in choosing the LFV option on the new Citizen lathes, as being a subcontractor we have to process a broad variety of materials. Often they are not short chipping, and it is difficult to break the swarf using chip-breaker geometry on the cutting tool and/or high-pressure coolant.”
He adds: “With LFV, which acts in two CNC axes simultaneously and is part of the control’s operating system, as distinct from a macro in the part program, it is possible to regulate chip size closely without compromising the life of the cutters. In fact, they tend to last longer and break less often.”
Bonham explains that not only can the length of the chip be specified in any given program according to the material being cut, but LFV can be applied to different parts of the cycle, such as when turning a deep groove in stainless steel, an operation that is particularly prone to producing a tangle of swarf. LFV avoids a ‘bird’s nest’ forming around the sub-spindle and inhibiting synchronous component pick-up for reverse-end machining, or entanglement of a tool leading to its breakage or compromised component accuracy and surface quality.

The reason LFV is not necessarily applied continuously to a whole program is that the technology lengthens slightly those parts of the cycle due to repeated periods of air cutting lasting microseconds. It is this action that breaks the swarf into short chips and it also has the effect of improving the penetration of coolant into the cutting zone, which is a prime reason behind the extended
tool life.
If a job is particularly price-sensitive, LFV use can be minimised or even switched off during manned operation, but the system is so flexible it can be reintroduced for lights-out running to ensure a full ghost shift’s production in the tote the next morning, without fear of stringy swarf impairing turning and drilling efficiency, and possibly recycling from the conveyor back into the working area and jamming the machine. Thus, a weekend’s worth of parts can be reliably produced, whereas without LFV there is a likelihood of only four hours of output before the lathe stops automatically in the absence of an operator to clear the swarf.
Bonham says: “LFV chip breaking is a huge selling point for Citizen turning centres. We visited their headquarters and showroom in Bushey to see a demonstration, and it was clear that the technology is able to resolve a lot of difficulties related to swarf management and temperature control when turning and deep-hole drilling. The benefits include better accuracy of machined components and longer tool life.”
The impetus last March for installing a seven-axis Cincom L20 Type XII LFV with a Y axis on the counter spindle and a 135° B-axis spindle integrated into the gang tool block for both front and back machining, was down to the original Swiss-type lathe being fully occupied, while enquiries kept coming in for large volume runs of typically 10,000 per month. One of the contracts secured involves producing a two-part, press-fit assembly with a threaded insert that serves as a stainless steel oil restrictor used in the aerospace industry.
The machine is more or less devoted to this ongoing job, so a Cincom L20 Type VIII LFV was purchased on specification five months later and was immediately busy producing diverse parts for a number of existing and new customers. It was at this point that the Bonham brothers and their father Steve, who is still active in the business, really appreciated how much money can be made using this type of manufacturing plant.
As a rule of thumb, they noted that the cost of a Swiss-type lathe is around twice that of a fixed-head machine, but the former is able to produce twice as many parts, allowing a subcontractor to invoice around double the amount per month, per machine compared with fixed-head capacity. The earnings per pound invested are therefore equivalent. The big saving is that one operator is able to attend all four of SRD Engineering’s Cincom sliding-head turning centres, whereas to achieve the same output from double the number of fixed-head lathes, which have to be individually manned for Formula One work, eight operators would be needed, resulting in much higher labour costs.

With this in mind, and having received a request to quote for producing 10,000 1” diameter nylon fasteners per month, a 32 mm bar capacity Cincom L32 Type VIII LFV was sourced from Citizen last November and has been machining the parts ever since. Here again, low-frequency vibration chip breaking has proved invaluable for keeping production going during periods of unattended running.
For further information www.citizenmachinery.co.uk

College apprentices get to experience industry

Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest runs a fabrication and welding course for learners and trainees who want to work within the engineering sector.

The NVQ qualification enables apprentices to demonstrate their occupational competence through gaining knowledge and experience of using industrial machine tools, which prompted the college to purchase a Morgan Rushworth press brake from Selmach Machinery.
“What’s really important to us is the training element of it,” states Malcolm York, curriculum area manager for mechanical engineering and marine at Pembrokeshire College. “Now we can be really accurate when bending substantial thicknesses of plate, which was difficult with our previous resource – a hand-operated bending machine.
“We knew Morgan Rushworth was a good company,” he adds “We didn’t want to get a Chinese import or something and find things going wrong within a year, or have to try to source spares. We needed reliability, so we went for the Morgan Rushworth.
“The machine has met our expectations. We had it serviced not long ago and also had more guys trained. Our learners are now able to bend plate accurately. With the Morgan Rushworth, they are using a similar machine to what they’d use in industry.”
York also has praise for the levels of aftercare and service provided by Selmach Machinery throughout the project: “I cannot fault the service – from getting quotes to the training provided – Selmach have been very patient with us. From when we placed the order to when the machine arrived, and from when Selmach put it into commission and trained us on it, they’ve been great.”
For further information https://selmach.com/

Allsops invests in Bystronic press brakes

Holmfirth-based sheet metal design and engineering specialist, Allsops Ltd, has recently upgraded its bending capability with the addition of two Xpert 40 Bystronic press brakes offering a bending length of 1 m and a stroke of 200 mm. Raising the number of press brakes on site from Bystronic (and predecessor companies) to 11, the machines provide a more efficient platform for bending smaller parts than is possible using a 3-m capacity machine, which by association has slower axis movements.

The Xpert 40 press brakes are highly efficient, according to Allsops’ production director, Lyndon Tyas: “With these inherently fast bending cells, all of the upper and lower tooling is to hand in drawers on the left and right hand sides of the machine, and the operator can remain seated when loading them.
“Tool positions are automatically calculated as a part of the program, and flashing LEDs on the front of the upper beam instruct the operator where to mount the tool segments,” he continues. “Ergonomic configuration means that setting up the machine is rapid, typically 15 minutes for a straightforward part. Accuracy is high – we easily hold ±0.5 mm, more than good enough for most jobs, and we can even halve that tolerance if required.”
Tyas also points out that there is space to hold cut blanks on one side of the machine and components that have been bent on the other. Another feature is the ByVision touchscreen control, which can be conveniently positioned to one side at the operator’s eye level, or just above it – centrally – if preferred.
For further information www.bystronic.co.uk

Steel specialist invests in press brake

A Euromaster-S CNC press brake with 400-tonne capacity has been supplied to a leading Polish industrial company by Haco-Kingsland.

Since its formation in 2003, Stal-Bud Nastaj Wiesław has been providing its services in the field of special steel constructions. The company develops, produces and implements dedicated solutions that are tailored to the needs of its customers. Located in the Polish city of Chełm, Lublin province, Stal-Bud has production halls that cover an area of over 4000 sq m and house around 60 people – and growing.
Thanks to the ambition of the owner, several large investments have been successfully completed in recent times. Among the notable machines to arrive is the aforementioned press brake from Haco-Kingsland. The multi-functional Euromaster-S offers a working length of 4 m and 400 tonnes of capacity.
“Thanks to very high work parameters, the Euromaster-S gives us new possibilities compared with the 160-tonne press brake we had previously,” company owner Wiesław Nastaj said in a conversation with Paweł Janas, director of Haco FAT.
The Robosoft FastBend-2D control with ‘MultiTouch’ technology is said to give Stal-Bud a definite advantage over the competition, allowing the company’s service to be cheaper and faster, while retaining high quality.
“I cannot imagine a more user-friendly way of programming the machine,” said the operator at Stal-Bud after he had completed operational training.
For further information www.kingsland.com