Rugby-based Raysun has developed its business from a designer and manufacturer of bespoke jigs and fixtures with a well-equipped tool-room facility, to one of the UK’s leading ‘fast-make’ specialists for turbine components. Today, the company places particular emphasis on the development of smaller hot gas parts such as nozzle guide vanes, seal segments, seal carriers and turbine blades for aerospace and land-based applications.
This involvement with the turbine industry came from Raysun’s early collaboration on the Rolls-Royce Viper Grinding project, where both Tyrolit and Raysun engineers were heavily involved in invention, development and exploitation of Viper technology. Through this work, Raysun had a need to update its tool-room capacity and, the addition of Heidenhain controls to XYZ Machine Tools’ HD vertical machining centre range brought the two companies together for the first time.
Raysun’s involvement in the Viper Grinding project also opened up opportunities to further diversify the business, which saw the introduction of its ‘fast-make’ concept that provides rapid product development of small hot gas turbine components.
“Typically, it could take an OEM 12-18 months to take these parts from concept to production-ready parts,” says company director Charles Ray. “However, with our systems and flexibility, we can achieve this in under six months. Typically, we spend 4-6 weeks on each stage of the project, these being design, jigs and fixture production, and final product development, with machining work spread across our tool room and separate production facility. The result of this fast-make concept has been rapid growth over the past three years, and we have several active projects in-hand for major customers that have placed additional pressure on the ageing machinery within our tool room.”
A legacy of the Viper Grinding work meant that virtually every machine at Raysun featured a Heidenhain control, and this would be the first tick box in selecting any replacement machine. The recently added option of the Heidenhain TNC 620 control to its HD range of vertical machining centres brought XYZ Machine Tools to the attention of Raysun.
“Without the choice of the Heidenhain control, which we are very familiar with, we probably wouldn’t have even considered XYZ as an option, but when we saw it was available, the other aspects of machine choice fell into place,” says Ray. “The tool room works on a wide range of parts, some with small, high-precision features and other much larger items, such as assembly jigs for building cars. To cover the range of requirements, a machining centre with a reasonable size table was required, and the XYZ 800 HD was ideal. The combination of the XYZ 800 HD machining centre and the Heidenhain control has definitely impressed us, and it fitted our requirements well with the added benefit of being a price-competitive package that was available in the timeframe we had.”
Raysun now has two XYZ 800 HD VMCs in place. With their 800 x 500 x 510 mm axis travels, 920 x 480 mm table size and 900 kg load capacity, the machines are being fully employed in a variety of tool-room applications. Constructed around a 4400 kg solid cast base and column, with traditional box slide ways on all three axes, the XYZ 800 HD provides a suitable machining platform for a wide range of components, with a mix of rigidity and agility supported by a 24-position tool changer and 25 kW/10,000 rpm spindle.
“The Heidenhain TNC620 control and optimised servos is proving to be a popular standard option among customers specialising in the aerospace and tool-room environments, where Heidenhain is traditionally strong,” says Nigel Atherton, managing director of XYZ Machine Tools. “The compact touchscreen user-interface of the Heidenhain control makes it attractive to a wider customer base and, by offering it on our HD range of vertical machining centres, we can now provide the optimum machine/control combination to suit a customer’s requirements.”
Raysun also needed to add to its turning capabilities and here it compromised on its desire for Heidenhain CNC and took delivery of an XYZ SLX355 ProTurn lathe featuring the SLX ProtoTRAK control. With milling, grinding and EDM being the key areas within tool-room, turning is an aspect of the business that has a lesser, yet vital role to play, and one where versatility is key.
“The ProtoTRAK control is ideal for what we needed as it allows anyone to step up to the lathe and commence operations thanks to its ease of use,” says Ray. “As with the XYZ 800 HD, the size and capability met our requirements and it is a no-nonsense machine that does an excellent job day-to-day for us.”
With these three machines from XYZ Machine Tools in place, the Raysun tool room is better placed to deliver to the expectations of the ‘fast-make’ side of the business, as well as individual customers for its general tool-room services.
For further information www.xyzmachinetools.com