Innovation drives investment

When pneumatics expert John (Jack) Bushby formed Sheffield-based Air Accessories in 1967, it was as a wholesaler of proprietary products from the world’s leading manufacturers, something that continues to this day.

From those early days, customer service was at the heart of everything the company did, and this vision remains under current owner and managing director Nick McKee. Part of that service is delivering products that meet customer needs precisely, and these don’t always come from a standard catalogue; therefore, a need for additional machining capacity to meet in-house product development was required.
Turnover has doubled since McKee took over the business and led to a push from Ian Malpass, Air Accessories’ production manager, and CNC setter operator Clive Glossop, to extend its in-house machining capacity. Already a user of an XYZ ProtoTRAK mill, an update to this machine seemed to be the obvious route for the company to take, as that control is ideal for the one-off and low-volume work planned. However, Malpass and Glossop had other ideas.
They put forward a proposal to bring in vertical machining centre capacity in the form of an XYZ 500 LR VMC.
“At the back of my mind was the fact that we are pneumatic engineers, not production engineers, and my thought was a machine of this type was a luxury, not a necessity, but I recognise that to get the best out of people you need to have better equipment,” says McKee. “The new machine would also reduce our reliance on putting work out to subcontract and, give us greater flexibility. Now that we have the machine, we may well become production engineers as it gives us the flexibility we need; it’s like having another member of staff.
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Hurco UK doubles size

US-based machining centre and CNC lathe manufacturer Hurco has moved the subsidiary serving the UK and Irish markets, Hurco Europe Ltd, to different premises on the Cressex Industrial Estate in High Wycombe.

Covering an area of 26,000 sq ft, the building is double the size of the previous facility. The official opening of the new headquarters, showroom and technical centre was marked by an open day for customers last month, at which 11 of the latest Hurco models were demonstrated under power. The president of Hurco Companies Inc, Greg Volovic, travelled from Indianapolis to formally open the building.
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Milling machine for large turbine blades

GF Machining Solutions is introducing the Liechti Turbomill 1400 g, which offers a solution for roughing and finishing turbine blades up to 1.4 m long.

Crucial aerospace engine turbine fan blades and high-bypass turbines produce much of an aircraft’s forward thrust. In the past, precision-forged blades needed only light finishing operations to achieve the tolerances required. Today, with growing demand for greater fuel efficiency, tighter tolerances are needed, and many manufacturers have responded by machining oversize forgings to final net shape.
Most often machined from titanium alloys, newer blade materials include aluminium and carbon-fibre composites. Carbon-fibre blades attach titanium leading edges to the relatively brittle composite material – a design element that minimises damage should an engine ingest foreign objects.
The titanium aluminide used for blades in the low-pressure sections of some new engines is brittle, but provides high heat resistance. Futuristic materials and the complex shapes required to securely unite them into a single turbine blade need equally futuristic machining processes, particularly when it comes to machine movement.
To meet the standards of aerospace manufacturers, the machine must also be able to produce a high-quality finished blade that requires minimal polishing and less bench work than a blade processed on a general application machine. GF Machining Solutions’ Liechti Turbomill 1400 g aerofoil machining platform has been designed to handle these challenges. The machine’s configuration means that blades are clamped at each end and rotated between centres, while a milling tool performs cutting operations. This motion facilitates the creation of complex aerofoil contours, allowing the machine to perform heavy-duty roughing and dynamic finishing for the aerofoil, root form and shroud.
Intricate profiles can be rapidly created on the leading and trailing edges of the blades that control airflow into the engine, while maintaining the tight tolerances that maximise fuel efficiency.
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25 years of ETG

Machine-tool supplier, the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), celebrated its 25th birthday in style recently, when it showcased its latest manufacturing technologies.

ETG, which recently acquired HK Technologies, threw open the doors of its Wellesbourne headquarters to give over 450 industry delegates the latest insight into the world of turnkey solutions, with two new product launches, a UK debut for the Nakamura MX100 and an in-depth look at the latest additive manufacturing and wire EDM machines. Orders for four new CNC machines were taken during the two-day event.
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Mazak five-axis machine set for UK debut

Yamazaki Mazak’s new CV5-500 entry-level five-axis machining centre is being given its UK debut at the company’s EMO Encore in December. The open house, which is being held at Mazak’s European Technology Centre in Worcester on 3-5 December 2019, will showcase 26 machines in total.

The star of the show will be the CV5-500, a new fully simultaneous five-axis machine developed in the UK for European machine users engaged in, or aspiring to, five-axis machining. Mazak’s CV5-500, which is being brought to market at a competitive price point, has a high-rigidity bridge construction with a fully supported trunnion table.
A new versatile 12,000 rpm spindle is capable of a peak performance of 18.5 kW and 119.4 Nm, making it suitable for a range of materials. Crucially, the machine has a compact footprint, ensuring its suitability for smaller machine shops, and can be easily automated with a side-loading door and robot interface. The CV5-500 is equipped with SmoothX CNC, Mazak’s specialist five-axis version of its Smooth Technology.
Another standout machine at EMO Encore will be the new Integrex i-200H ST, which is equipped with a second spindle, a newly designed lower turret and multiple turning and milling spindle specifications. In addition, the machine is equipped with a new CNC, SmoothAi, Mazak’s latest artificial intelligence control.
Mazak will also be giving UK launches to two new specialist gear cutting and measurement machines, with the highlight being the Integrex e-1250 V/8S AG. The AG series, which stands for Auto Gear, is a range of high-specification machines featuring specialist hardware, software and metrology, which in combination produce highly accurate gears compared with conventional CNC machining.
Additionally, EMO Encore will include a specialist laser open house featuring the Optiplex 3015 Fiber III laser equipped with multi-control torch and intelligent functions.
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