Rivercircle doubles-up with XYZ

When Peterborough-based Rivercircle invested in one of the first XYZ UMC-5X gantry-style simultaneous five-axis machining centres just over 12 months ago, its ambition was to gain efficiency by transferring work previously performed on three- and four-axis machines.

Such was the company’s success in doing that, it has won numerous new contracts for five-axis work, resulting in the arrival of its second UMC-5X.
“We had no work that demanded full five-axis capability when we bought the first XYZ UMC-5X, but knew we could reduce set-up time and cycle time by moving work from other machines,” explains Paul Langan, Rivercircle’s production manager. “Furthermore, we had no expectation of keeping the machine busy 24/7, but as word spread, customers began to recognise the capability that we now had, and work kept coming in.”
The influx of orders from existing and new customers for dedicated five-axis work meant that additional capacity was required. However, due to the success of the first machine from XYZ, there was no reason for Langan to look anywhere else for the second.
“Work is continuing to move towards five-axis machining and, with the two XYZ UMC-5X machines, we can combine operations and become far more efficient, which will ultimately lead to more work as we are more competitive,” he says. “The ease of use of the machines, with the Heidenhain control that we are familiar with, along with support from XYZ Machine Tools, made our decision to double-up straightforward.”
The arrival of the second XYZ UMC-5X was enhanced by investment in several seats of Mastercam five-axis software to ensure there were no bottlenecks in processing the increased amount of work generated by the additional machining capacity.
For further information www.xyzmachinetools.com

Compact machining centre from DMG Mori

A new machining centre has been introduced by DMG Mori that, despite having travels of 700, 420 and 380 mm in the X, Y and Z axes respectively, has a footprint of just 4.2 sq m.

The DMP 70 takes up 10% less space on a factory floor than the machine it replaces, the MillTap 700, of which more than 3000 have been sold.
Available either as a three-axis CNC machine or fitted with an optional swivelling rotary table to enable five-axis simultaneous machining, the production centre is suitable for the manufacture of medical parts. However, it is equally well suited to producing smaller parts in the aerospace and other demanding sectors,
as well as in the job shop.
Provided that components fall within its working envelope, the DMP 70 is able to lessen the load on larger capacity, more expensive machines. A high degree of rigidity in machine construction, including a grey cast iron machine bed and 35 mm wide linear guideways, allows a metal removal rate that is 10% higher than the maximum possible on the MillTap 700.
With rapid traverses of 60 m/min and acceleration up to 2 g, the DMP 70 offers dynamic performance. In the machine’s standard version, it is equipped with an inline, 10,000 rpm/78 Nm spindle. Fast tool change and chip-to-chip times of 1.5 seconds also contribute to high productivity. The tool magazine has capacity for 15 cutters up to 250 mm long; 25 tool pockets being an option.
For further information www.dmgmori.com

‘Design and Make’ day for schools

Manufacturers from across the West Midlands are joining forces to help inspire the engineers of the future at a special event.

The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), which comprises eight subcontract manufacturers and an engineering design agency, is putting on its second ‘Design and Make’ day, a unique opportunity for year 11 and year 12 students to spend a day getting first-hand experience of engineering, problem-solving and working as part of a team. The day will be held on 10 July at the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
Teams of four pupils will be invited to tackle the demanding brief that will involve designing and making a mechanical device (details revealed on the day) using just basic tools and materials. The teams are offered support from MAN member apprentices and encouraged to develop their ideas through trial and analysis. Each device is then tested by a qualified panel of engineers, with prizes awarded to the schools in three different categories: efficiency, innovation and manufacturing. The winning schools will be presented with a 3D printer from CREATE Education.
For further information www.man-group.co.uk

Making light work of lights-out milling

UK manufacturing lags behind the productivity performance of fellow G7 members and that of other major global economies. A lack of investment and shortage of skilled staff are widely considered to be major contributing factors to this lamentable situation. In addition to being regarded as an effective means of UK manufacturers achieving productivity improvements, the implementation of advanced automation technologies invariably helps solve skills shortages.

Hertford-based Qualiturn Products is a prime example of a forward-thinking business that has achieved world-class levels of productivity by embracing the use of automation systems and developing efficient new working practices.
Established in 1974, and now run by second-generation managing director, Nick Groom, Qualiturn Products says it has grown to become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of precision mill-turned components. In 1990, the company became one of the first subcontractors to operate its mill-turn machines in a ‘lights-out’ manner. The use of barfeed systems and other advanced production aids means that since that time, the business has operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with only daytime staffing.
Prompted by the success of Qualiturn Products’ 24-7 production of precision turned components, in 2014 the company established Qualimill, a subcontract milling division that embraces similar, highly efficient, lights-out operating methods. Just as the application of innovative technologies facilitated a lights-out mill-turn manufacturing regime, the implementation of advanced automation aids, such as the Lang Robo-Trex system, supplied by Thame Workholding, has enabled Qualimill to operate milling machines ‘lights-out’, and helped the division to become a successful subcontract manufacturer of milled components.
To satisfy the rising demand for Qualimill’s services, the company recently moved into much larger premises and installed several additional production aids, the most recent of which is a second Robo-Trex robot automation system. The productivity gains made possible by the use of Qualimill’s first Lang Robo-Trex robot systems was a major factor in the decision to purchase the second system that now feeds a Doosan DVF 5000 machining centre.

Qualimill’s two Lang Robo-Trex robot systems each use two trollies that act as mobile storage mediums. These trollies are loaded with multiple vices that hold workpieces which are ready to be loaded into the machine by the systems’ robots. The robots pick workpieces from the trollies, load them into the machine tools and, when they are fully machined, return them to the trollies. When filled with machined parts, each trolley is removed, and a replacement loaded with multiple workpieces ready to be machined is added.
Working unattended and fed by the Lang Robo-Trex systems, the company’s machining centres run throughout the day. Before the end of each manned shift, the Robo-Trex trollies are replenished with full consignments of workpieces, enabling each machining centre to run unmanned through the night.
Robo-Trex trollies are available in two sizes, the smaller version has a capacity of 30 vices to accommodate parts up to 120 x 120 x 100 mm, while the second, larger model has a capacity of 42 vices for parts up to 120 x 100 x 70 mm. The Robo-Trex system is able to handle four automation trolleys. Therefore, depending on part size, the available storage capacity increases to 120/168 vices.
The patented, edgewise mounting of the system’s vices ensures maximum space utilisation, while accessibility to the clamping devices allows workpieces to be exchanged, without removing the vice.
An intuitive, easy-to-operate touch panel enables straightforward control of the automated system and, as external access to the trolley is possible, production remains seamless because machining cycles do not need to be interrupted. Control of the zero-point clamping system can be performed either pneumatically through the machine tool, or mechanically via the system’s robot.
“Increasing demand from our mill-turn customers motivated the launch of our Qualimill division,” says Groom. “To ensure that we were able to replicate the success of our Qualiturn operation, when setting-up the new division we put into operation advanced automation systems – where possible – and applied similar efficient working practices to those used in our mill-turn operations.
“Soon after the formation of Qualimill, in an effort to gain maximum milling efficiencies, we looked for an advanced technology that would allow lights-out running of an existing CNC milling machine,” he adds. “We found the answer in the Lang Robo-Trex automation system from Thame Workholding. Having been impressed by the performance of our fist Lang Robo-Trex robot system, to help satisfy ever rising requests for our milling work, we recently purchased a second system.
“Our decision to launch Qualimill and employ highly-efficient production technologies has been validated by the division’s success. Our new Lang Robo-Trex automation system now feeds a recently purchased Doosan DVF 5000 machining centre and further extends our lights-out production capabilities.

“By releasing the full, latent productive potential of the machine tools they serve, our two automatic handling systems release skilled staff for more technicality demanding work. In addition, our Lang Robo-Trex automation systems are helping us to accelerate production throughput and reduce our lead times. They also enable the generation of cost-effective quotes and help us to attract further business.”
Thame Workholding’s sales manager Gareth Barnett adds: “As well as providing industry with a range of cost-effective, standard work-holding systems from several of the world’s leading manufacturers, we also design and manufacture bespoke solutions in-house. Our experience and expertise in all aspects of work holding allows our staff to fully understand customer needs, then to provide optimum, cost-effective solutions.
“Our grasp of Qualimill’s brief, relating to the division’s quest for efficient lights-out working, enabled us to recommend the Robo-Trex automatic handling system with confidence,” he adds. “Now that the company’s first system has delivered on all of the promises we made, we were delighted to receive an order for a second system.”
For further information www.thameworkholding.com

AM boosts speed and cuts cost

Following investment in a Renishaw AM 400 additive manufacturing (AM) system, Frazer-Nash has produced a novel fastener for its customer, Kwikbolt, for use during aircraft assembly.

The component can be made quicker and at a lower cost when compared with traditional subtractive machining methods. Frazer-Nash now produces 25,000 AM parts a year and has expanded its range of components.
Paul Mortlock, managing director at Frazer-Nash, says: “The Kwikbolt project is a true AM success story. Using AM means we can easily produce a bespoke component based on each aerospace customer’s requirements. Renishaw’s AM systems have been flawless since we started working together. Over the past five years, we’ve developed a close relationship. We originally chose to partner with Renishaw due to its support services, and we’ve found these to be invaluable.”
For further information www.renishaw.com