TaeguTec launch event at ICC Birmingham

On 17 March, TaeguTec will be bringing its ‘Emerald’ branding to the ICC in Birmingham, marking the UK launch of the SFeedTec series of cutting tools for drilling, milling, turning, grooving and parting-off.

SFeedTec is said to offer speed and feed technology that marks a quantum leap in innovation. The event that will be hosted by IMC Group president Jacob Harpaz, who will highlight the technical features and application benefits of no fewer than 30 new product lines.
With ever-higher productivity levels expected by industry, SFeedTec is said to break the realms of convention with radical new tool designs, insert geometries and never-before-seen insert grades. At the heart of the new SFeedTec brand is a focus on increasing the speed and feed rates of cutting tools to maximise productivity, reduce cycle times and extend tool life.
For further information sfeedtecseminar@taegutec.co.uk

Second Makino die-sink EDM at BM

Although recent years have seen the increasing prevalence of hard milling at Whitchurch-based toolmaker and plastic injection moulding specialist BM Injection, there will always be a place in its tool room for EDM technology, with both die-sink and wire-erosion machines in use.

To take advantage of the latest EDM capabilities, the company recently decided to introduce a second spark-erosion machine, ordering a Makino EDAF3 HEAT from UK agent NCMT, which at the same time supplied a Makino five-axis machining centre.
“Our latest Makino die sinker is compact and 100% reliable, even on demanding jobs,” states director Tim Combes. “Furthermore, the machine is capable of producing parts to accuracies measured in low single-figure microns. The level of intelligence built into the machine means that one toolmaker can operate both of our die-sink machines and the Makino five-axis machining centre. Deep ribs can be produced quickly, reliably and with low wear on graphite electrodes. Constant attendance for manual intervention to avoid the onset of arcing, for example, is not required due to the spark gap monitoring and arc prevention circuitry.”
BM Injection’s machine was supplied with Makino’s optional high energy applied technology (HEAT), which incorporates dual high pressure capability, digitally controlled flush pumps and a large capacity, four-step filtration system to provide fast machining speeds and accuracy, even under poor or difficult flushing conditions, says NCMT.
Offering capacity of 450 by 351 by 351 in the X, Y and Z axis respectively, the latest EDAF includes a newly developed flushing control and increased feed rates up to 5000 mm/min in X and Y.
For further information www.ncmt.co.uk

First of a Kind 2020 seeks this century’s Brunel

Organisations developing cutting-edge technology focused on making rail journeys faster, cleaner and greener could receive a share of £9.4m to bring their ideas to life.

The Department for Transport is working with Innovate UK to launch the First of a Kind 2020 competition to accelerate innovation in rail. Now in its fourth year, the competition will help transform rail travel for passengers and decarbonise the network. Last year saw 124 innovators apply for a share of £7.8m, with 24 projects receiving funding of between £250,000 and £350,000. Entries for this year will be accepted through to 11 March.
For further information https://is.gd/zeveba

Hurco machines help Cowie double in size

Over the past eight years, Cumbernauld-based contract machining specialist Cowie Engineering has doubled annual turnover, increased headcount from 13 to 24, and acquired (in 2013) an adjacent factory unit of equal size to the original, raising the total floor area to 9500 sq ft. During this time, the number of vertical machining centres on the shop floor, all of which are from Hurco, has also doubled, to 10. Additionally, a Hurco 10” chuck CNC lathe has been on-site since 2011.

The latest Hurco addition is a VMX60SRTi five-axis VMC with swivelling spindle head and flush rotary table, a design that is providing maximum working volume for the single set-up machining of larger parts used in the oil and gas industry. This machine is also allowing the subcontractor to gain extra contracts from the motorsport sector, particularly for high-tolerance components produced in one hit from materials such as from stainless steel and steel alloys, through to aluminium and plastics. The use of linear scales rather than encoders for positional feedback from the linear axes, together with Renishaw part probing and tool length setting, provide the elevated levels of precision demanded in race-car construction.
Typical tolerances held are from ±0.05 mm, down to 8 or 9 µm total. This demand has necessitated the installation of a new CMM, an Aberlink Axiom Too, in a temperature-controlled room. In addition, a full-time inspector has been appointed to verify that Formula One components coming off the Hurco machines, and others, are compliant.
Prior to the arrival of the VMX60SRTi, the most recent VMC additions (in 2018) were two of the manufacturer’s latest generation VM10i machining centre, one of which has a 4th-axis. These models were preceded by the arrival of a VMX42T and a VM2, both of which were installed in 2016 equipped with Hurco 4th-axis rotary tables. Other equipment in use includes seven more lathes and a Sodick CNC
wire-erosion machine.

Ross and Grant Cowie, sons of company founder Rodger, together with his wife Cathie and daughter Julie (who has just qualified as a chartered accountant), all work full-time in the business. Cowie Engineering was established in 1999 and, at the start, all machining was carried out on manual mills and a lathe. However, it was less than two years before the first CNC machine arrived, a second-hand Hurco BMC25 with a 1050 x 500 mm table, which allowed larger and more complex components to be produced.
The North Lanarkshire company has standardised on this make of VMC ever since, due to the reliability of that early model together with the speed and user-friendliness of the conversational control, originally Ultimax and now called WinMAX. It was and still is ideal for producing the subcontractor’s small batches of one-off up to 50-off.
Other Hurco machines followed: a VMX30 in 2011 which replaced the original VMC; a Hurco BMC4020 with 1220 x 510 mm table in 2004; a VMX64 with an even larger table and 4th axis in 2009; and a pair of smaller VM1 models shortly afterwards.

The type of work undertaken by the ISO9001-accredited firm has changed over time. Early contracts were mainly in mining, defence, construction and bottling, as well as in food and switchgear, but more business today comes from the latter two sectors, along with motorsport, the electrical industry and, increasingly, oil and gas, which now appears to be emerging strongly from a marked and sustained downturn.
New also in Cumbernauld in the past couple of years has been the installation of an offline CADCAM system from OneCNC. Previously, all programs for the VMCs were created at the Ultimax/WinMAX controls using touchscreen conversational menus, sometimes with direct input of DXF data to describe more complex geometry.
Now, with the arrival of the CAD package, sections of ISO blocks can be extracted and inserted anywhere within a conversationally created cycle, any number of times, to stitch together a complete part program using the NC Merge feature within WinMAX. This capability considerably advances the subcontractor’s programming capability.
Further useful features within the latest version of the Windows-based WinMAX software exploited by Cowie Engineering include: ‘Mill Polygon’, which facilitates milling a multi-sided contour with equal-length sides; and ‘Mill Slot’, which creates a slot defined by a line or an arc segment and a width, the slot ends being round or square. ‘Swept Surface’ functionality built into the control also continues to be used frequently. This function allows a 2D surface to be moved along a contour to create smooth 3D geometries within one conversational data block.
Company director Ross Cowie says: “We have historically machined a lot of stainless steel, particularly for the food industry, and the material still accounts for around a fifth of throughput. Lately, new contracts have introduced diverse engineering steels as well as challenging alloys such as Duplex, Inconel and titanium, plus more aluminium and plastics.

“We use our Hurco 4th axis tables regularly to gain access to parts for machining on multiple sides, hopefully in one hit,” he continues. “We position them individually with or without a tailstock, or alternatively mount multiple parts on a trunnion for indexing. Sometimes we machine components requiring full simultaneous 4-axis cycles.”
Today, the subcontractor is renowned for its quick turnaround and high-quality work. The third trainee since 2011 has started his apprenticeship and the first two are established members of staff, helping to assuage a lack of skilled operators in Scotland. Continued success in the future will be secured by the firm’s track record of business retention, some current customers having been served by the subcontractor since the very early days.
For further information www.hurco.co.uk

Sodick wire EDM reduces set-ups

A precision machining subcontractor has invested in its first Sodick wire-erosion machine, a VL600Q model supplied by Sodi-Tech EDM.

Berkshire-based Duckworth & Kent (Reading) Ltd, is using the machine to advance its wire-erosion capabilities, reduce the number of set-ups required, improve quality and repeatability, and introduce unmanned overnight operations.
“Our speciality is low-volume, high-quality precision components, often manufactured from a variety of difficult materials and with complex shapes that few others want to attempt,” explains sales director Stuart Gleeson.
The 15-employee business has relied on wire EDM for many years. However, when one of the company’s three wire EDMs recently required replacement, the company decided to evaluate a range of potential suppliers.
Reviewing three wire EDM machines, Gleeson quickly settled on the Sodick VL600Q, which seemed “a natural fit with the type of work” undertaken at the company.
“Unlike certain other machines, the generator on the Sodick model featured state-of-the-art technology,” he says. “In addition, we liked the rotary axis, which knew would help with complex parts. For instance, it’s already making light work of a lifting rod for the defence industry that is made from toughened steel. The rod features a series of diameters and squares that have to be concentric and straight to one another. There is also a thread and a yoke at the top for lifting. The rod is about 150 mm long and we recently produced a batch of 58 in a single set-up. Previously, this part would have required two EDM operations, or one EDM operation followed by milling and/or grinding. Saving a set-up probably equates to a cycle time reduction of one hour per part. So that’s 58 hours saved on one job alone, plus the quality is better as we avoid picking up the component and re-setting.”
For further information www.sodick.org