Co-ordinating quality at Currock

Manufacturing operations as Chelmsford-based Currock Engineering, a 91-employee supplier of total solution packages to the global aerospace sector, are underpinned by its collection of Mitutoyo CMMs, a resource that has recently been bolstered by the arrival of a Mitutoyo Crysta-Apex S CNC CMM with a large XYZ capacity of 1200 x 2000 x 1000 mm.

Now installed and fully operational, the Crysta-Apex S CMM brings Currock’s Mitutoyo CMM count up to four machines. Although purchased primarily to accurately inspect the company’s larger components, the size of the machine’s granite bed also allows multiple smaller parts to be loaded and fully automatic, mass measuring routines to be performed. Currock is both ISO9001 and BS EN 9100 accredited, and is a signatory to the SC21 Action Plan.
Operations manager Mark Burrows says: “The speed and accuracy of our large capacity Crysta-Apex S CNC CMM has already made a significant contribution to our inspection function. As well as easily handling the largest of our parts, its ability to inspect multiple smaller components in a single set-up, in a rapid, automatic CNC mode, has considerably accelerated the throughput of work in our quality department.”
Given the speed of today’s high-yield machine tools and the sheer volume of parts they produce, ensuring that component inspection systems keep pace has never been more important. Add to this the ever increasing complexity of components and tighter dimensional tolerances being applied, and it is easy to understand that the performance of CMMs is being challenged as never before.
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Romi at Expomafe

Romi recently participated in the second edition of Expomafe, one of the biggest exhibitions for the metalworking sector in Latin America.

The event took place at the São Paulo Exhibition & Convention Centre. Romi’s stand took up of 750 sq m of space, where the company displayed 11 machines. This selection included the latest Romi Line D – New Generation, an advanced version of existing machining centres featuring a larger working area. The machines stand out for their thermal and geometrical stability, and high force-absorption capacity.
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The preferred choice

GF Machining Solutions has supplied a precision subcontractor – Thomas Brown Engineering Ltd – with a new five-axis machining centre.

The Mikron MILL P 500U was installed at the company’s 20,000 sq ft facility in Huddersfield earlier this year and is being used to machine precision components for customers operating in the aerospace, medical, automotive, robotics, food processing, oil and gas, and steel manufacturing sectors.
Components machined by Thomas Brown Engineering on the MILL P 500U are diverse and varied. Typical materials processed include aluminium, steel, stainless steel and Inconel, while batch sizes are mainly in the low-to-medium range.
The parts machined on the Mikron are characterised by their accuracy and surface finishes, with a 20 µm geometric tolerance and a Ra 0.2 µm surface finish requirement being the rule rather than the exception.
Says Tom Brown, managing director: “The sectors where we operate are competitive and demanding. Quality is non-negotiable, and ever-stringent delivery times are increasingly prevalent. To meet customer demands and survive in these environments you need to be committed to continuous improvement and continually raise your game. By investing in the latest and most advanced machine-tool technologies, and by combining our manufacturing prowess with excellent customer service, we’ve found that we have been able to grow our business.”

Thomas Brown Engineering was established in 1983. Over the past 35 years the company has grown steadily from a one-man band to a business that now employs 20 members of staff. Other changes in the company have been even more noticeable – and dramatic.
Says Brown: “When the company was created, it operated out of a couple of old garage units. As a fledgling engineering subcontractor we were, at that time, relying on a couple of used manual machines to produce parts and make a living.”
In stark contrast to these early days, the company today has 14 CNC machine tools at its disposal, and by the end of the year is looking to increase its floor space by an extra 4,000 sq ft.
The company’s customer profile and client base has also changed significantly, as Brown explains: “We’re a tier-two supplier in the sectors where we operate. The investment we’ve made in plant, people, technologies, systems and processes has enabled us to consolidate our position in these industries with existing customers, and win contracts with new customers too.”
This result is exemplified by the company’s position in aerospace sector, where its AS9100 accreditation has been instrumental in achieving a number of new contract wins. Such an increase in demand for the company’s engineering services did, however, create some production issues, resulting ultimately in the decision to invest in the new Mikron MILL P 500U.
“We audited and reviewed our machining strengths and weaknesses, and identified where the ‘pinch’ points existed,” states Brown. “This exercise helped determine that we needed to increase our five-axis milling capacity and capabilities as a matter of some urgency.

“We had invested in a Mikron HPM 450U five-axis machining centre some years earlier and the machine had served us well,” he continues. “We particularly liked the machine’s built-in automation and the way in which its integrated automatic pallet changers helped us increase our productivity and efficiency, and reduce our operational costs.”
Thomas Brown Engineering drew up a list of technical and performance requirements for the new machine and benchmarked these against the five-axis machines in GF Machining Solutions’ portfolio. It became clear that the MILL P 500U was the preferred choice.
The Mikron MILL P 500U is described as a high-performance, simultaneous five-axis machining centre that offers powerful and dynamic material removal capabilities, thermal stability and high stiffness, to deliver precision and high surface finish on complex parts. A thermo-stable and symmetrical design is featured so that even when machining at a fast pace and over long production runs, accuracy and process reliability remain high and consistent.
GF Machining Solutions says that the machine delivers fast acceleration (1.7g) and is equipped with a high-torque, 36 kW Step-Tec motor spindle that is highly reliable. The machine’s productivity is enhanced by its (in-built) automation which comprises up to a 215-position ATC and up to a 12-pallet APC.
Thomas Brown Engineering also wanted the machine to be able to perform interpolation turning operations. Interpolation turning is a machining technique developed for advanced machining centres and B-axis multi-task machines. The strategy enables a turning operation to be performed by interpolating the X- and Y-axis in a circular direction, and rotating the machine spindle in time with the rotational contour. Circular movement can either increase or decrease in diameter to perform facing operations, or be combined with the Z axis to produce a bore or outer diameter.
Concludes Brown: “The MILL P 500U is a great machine. It is accurate, fast and flexible. We mainly use the machine for 3+2 positional machining operations as opposed to full simultaneous five-axis machining, and its performance to date, no matter what we’ve asked it to do, has been exceptional.”

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School prize

An East Staffordshire school showcased its engineering excellence last week when it won the main prize for ‘Efficient Design’ at the Manufacturing Assembly Network’s (MAN) Design & Make Challenge.

John Taylor High School beat off the challenge of eight other schools from across the UK to take the title for its hand-crafted vehicle, which ran the length of the test track in the fastest time. More than 40 year-11 pupils and A-Level students swapped their daily lessons to take part in the competition, which is funded by nine local SMEs and designed to inspire young people to consider a career in engineering.
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New HQ for Jones & Shipman Hardinge

Following the acquisition of Hardinge Inc by Privet Fund Management LLC during the summer of 2018, a restructuring of the group has resulted in a number of changes at the headquarters of the UK Jones & Shipman Hardinge operations.

The company has relocated from its long-established Leicester headquarters and factory to a new administration, distribution and demonstration facility on the Europark at Clifton Dunsmore, just outside Rugby.
Furthermore, the group’s sister grinding companies – Kellenberger, Hauser, Voumard, Tschudin and Usach – now include the Hardinge identity and are represented under the new Hardinge global umbrella website as distinct brands. There will be no change to the relationship between the UK company and the Okamoto brand, which Jones & Shipman Hardinge represents and supports exclusively in the UK and France.
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