Starrag machines at Hyde Group

The success of a Heckert HEC 800 X5 five-axis machining centre for the machining of a titanium part at Hyde Group’s Hollygate Aircraft Components has subsequently led to the installation of a similar Heckert machine at sister Group company Victoria Production Engineering, for processing stainless steel components.

Both X5s, supplied by Starrag UK, have enabled the companies to ‘work smarter’ by introducing twin-pallet machining instead of single-station, three-axis working. This strategy provides for high utilisation levels as the machines’ twin pallets enable extended hours of machining.
In addition, not only do attributes such as integrated spindle monitoring, high-pressure coolant and effective swarf removal allow for unmanned working, but improved tool-holding stability has led to improved tool life.
Both companies are part of the Aero Products division of the Hyde Group – the northwest-based engineering service provider that specialises in design, manufacture, tooling and support for customers that include Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Embraer, GKN Aerospace, Leonardo and Rolls-Royce.
Paul Mellor, divisional technical director, explains that rising demand for the titanium workpiece at Stockport-based Hollygate spurred the search for “an improved way of working where we could effectively gain more from the same” in terms of replacing machine-for-machine with regard to floor space and manpower requirements, which led to the installation of the initial Heckert HEC 800 X5.
Mellor also outlines how similar process improvement strategies were employed for the stainless steel workpieces being machined by Victoria Production Engineering in Manchester.
“Two aspects were of particular significance,” he says. “These were: Starrag’s introduction of special hydraulic ‘sleeve’ clamping [via the machine’s hydraulics system] to consistently hold – yet not deform – the thin-wall tubular parts; and the application of long-reach angle milling heads on the Heckert HEC 800 X5.”
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New Leadwell five-axis machine

Taiwanese machine tool builder Leadwell CNC Machines has introduced the BC-600 at the smaller capacity end of its of BC series of five-axis machining centres. On all four models, the rotary axes are provided by a ±110° B-axis spindle and an integrated C-axis rotary table, both of which may be interpolated with X, Y and Z to allow full five-axis production.

The competitively priced machines, which are fitted with scales in the linear and rotary axes as standard, are available in the UK and Ireland through recently appointed sole sales and service agent WH-Lead, which moved into its new Towcester facility last month. The first batch of Leadwell machines for stock and demonstration will start arriving from this week.
A notable feature of the 12-tonne BC-600 is its generous working envelope for the nominal 4.7 x 3.8 m footprint. Travels in X and Y are 1100 and 610 mm respectively, while in the Z axis, components 610 mm tall can be machined with the spindle in the vertical orientation, rising to 790 mm with the spindle horizontal. Cutting feed rate is up to 10 m/min, while rapids are 36 m/min in X and Y, and 30 m/min in Z.
The flush, 600 mm diameter rotary table accepts workpieces weighing up to 400 kg, but the full 1280 x 610 mm fixed table is able to accommodate 1400 kg components for three- or four-axis machining. The C axis uses a direct-drive motor to provide high torque and rigidity, and to avoid the backlash normally associated with worm-gear drives. Maximum standard rotational speed of the C-axis table is 120 rpm, but there is an optional 800 rpm version to provide turning capability.
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Make UK expands online

Make UK has expanded its online training and learning services for companies to ensure that manufacturers are able to pivot their business and function through the COVID-19 crisis.

As well as operating a coronavirus hub, which gives companies access to the official government advice and support schemes, since the start of the crisis Make UK has transferred all of its HR and legal, health and safety, and apprentice training online. The organisation is also continuing its introduction of new services to help companies, such as remote cyber security protection for home workers.
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Export boom lands award

A Coventry-based aerospace supplier that has pivoted to the supply of critical parts for ventilators is celebrating after it received the Queen’s Award for International Trade. Arrowsmith Engineering, which employs 76 people, secured the accolade after it recorded a 996% increase in export activity over the past three years, supplying precision components to global manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce, GKN, ITP and Siemens.

Copyright 2018 Mike Sewell (tel: 07966 417114) Photograph by Mikey Sewell.
Photography at Arrowsmith Engineering in Coventry.
(Commissioned by Russ Cockburn – Cucumber PR)

The company’s parts are used in aerospace engines, landing gear and airframes, with recent wins seeing sales rise to £7.6m and investment in the latest CNC robotics paving the way for 10% growth in 2020. Arrowsmith Engineering, which is part of the Aero Services Global Group, has recently been lending its manufacturing expertise to support the frontline fight against COVID-19, after being invited by Rolls-Royce Control Systems and Rolls-Royce in Derby to join their ventilator supply chains.
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Automated cell at Lenane Precision

In March, a Mills CNC custom-designed and built automated manufacturing cell was installed at Lenane Precision’s facility in Smithstown, Shannon. The cell represents a significant investment for Lenane and, at full capacity, will run 24/7, delivering significant productivity gains and process efficiency improvements to the company.

The cell, comprising two Siemens 840D-controlled Doosan DVF 5000 five-axis machining centres and a Fanuc industrial robot, includes a robot positioning track (also known as a RTU – Robot Transfer Unit) that runs between the two adjacently positioned DVF 5000 machines, enabling the robot to service both.
Integrated racking systems hold up to 36 standard size pallets on to which workpieces are clamped and then loaded into the DVF 5000 machines. Machined components are also unloaded from the machine and stored here.
Additionally, 2 m high safety caging/fencing encloses the robot track, restricting access to the DVF 5000 machines’ loading/unloading operations.
At the heart of the system is a touchscreen HMI that uses Mills’ proprietary SYNERGi software to control the cell, providing a seamless interface with the machine tools and robot.
“Continuous improvement is a journey not a destination,” states Jim Lenane, managing director. “My vision and ambition has always been to exploit the true potential of automation – the objective being to achieve continuous and seamless production in our facility, and to reduce as far as possible the labour component from our machining processes.
“We already had a good relationship with Mills CNC,” he adds. “We know them and they know us, so there isn’t a learning curve involved as there would be if we had selected a new supplier.”
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