Tenon Engineering enjoys a global reputation for its high-precision manufacturing capabilities. In addition to serving an international scientific equipment client base, the Dorking, Surrey-based business counts companies involved in similarly demanding technical sectors as loyal customers.

Approximately 80% of Tenon Engineering’s output is exported to major markets in the USA, Asia, Africa and mainland Europe. Along with its high-precision subcontract work, the business also manufactures for its sister company, Wallace Instruments, a specialist in the quality assurance testing of rubber, plastics and other materials.

Given the nature of the sectors it serves, and the critical functions that much of its output is designed to perform, quality, accuracy, efficiency and reliability are central to the ethos of the business. To help ensure adherence to these values, Tenon Engineering boasts a comprehensive range of in-house resources, including multi-axis machining, cylindrical grinding, precision sheet metal fabrication, assembly and coil winding, and electrical motor manufacture.

The company’s machining facility houses a variety of advanced CNC machine tools, including a range of Dugard CNC lathes and several multi-axis machining centres. As the company’s machine tools are normally involved in performing the low-volume production of high precision parts, to help minimise job changeover times and reduce non-productive periods, Tenon Engineering’s chief engineer Terry Healy searched for a suitably efficient work-holding system. He found the answer to his quest in a Lang pre-stamping unit along with a collection of Lang Technik Makro Grip Vices.

”Our capabilities and world-class engineering expertise, from the design and development of prototypes to all aspects of manufacturing, means that we can provide innovative solutions across a multitude of industries,” reports Healy. “Therefore, our international customer base includes companies involved in the scientific instrumentation, materials testing equipment, aviation, medical instrumentation and quality control analysis sectors. The nature of our customer means that we generally employ our machine tools in high-value, relatively short machining runs.”

Consequently, with the intention of cutting the times lost in job changeovers and increasing our machining efficiencies, Tenon Engineering invested in Lang Technik’s advanced pre-stamping technology and Makro grip vices.

“The use of Lang Technik’s advanced work-holding systems on our machine tools has achieved our target of significantly speeding-up our job change-over times and increasing the efficiency of our machine tools,” explains Healy. “By using our LANG Technik products, a lot of the work involved in setting-up the next job on a particular machine tool can now be done while the current machining task is still being performed.

“Now, within the cycle time of an existing job, our production staff use our new Lang Technik stamping unit to make high-precision, small indentations into the next workpiece blank to be machined,” he continues. “Then, when the prepared workpiece is clamped into one of our Lang Makro-grip vices, the features on the vice’s jaws engage precisely with the workpiece’s pre-stamped indentations. By using this arrangement, we’re able to achieve outstanding holding power while only needing to apply minimal clamping forces. Also, the rapid loading and unloading of our Lang Technik work holding means we have achieved much quicker job change-over times.”

Adds Healy: “The system’s reduced holding pressure requirement ensures that, under all machining conditions, we’re able to securely clamp from the softest to the hardest of materials without worrying about the component deforming or the vice loosening its grip under high machining loads. An added advantage is that the Lang Technik stamping unit makes its indentations into just the last 3 mm of each workpiece blanks. Therefore, we’re now also making savings on material.”

Notably, the many benefits gained from the use of the innovative Lang Technik pre-stamping technology and Makro grip vices has ensured that the system has become the benchmark clamping method for ultra-secure five-axis machining.

The toothed jaws of conventional vices must perform two distinct roles, in addition to indenting workpiece’s material, they must also securely hold the workpiece under all machining loads. Commonly used vices are only able to exert a maximum pressure of approximately 4-6 tons. As a result, the effective penetration of their jaws into workpiece material can be problematic, especially when clamping harder metals. Also, to ensure adequate piercing of the workpiece, a vice’s teeth must remain sharp. Due to the exposure of vice teeth to high levels of torque and wear in use, their clamping ability inevitably declines. Subsequently, when using conventional vices during the machining of soft, distortion-prone materials, jaw teeth also tend to lose their holding power and work free from components when under machining forces.

Using Land’s advanced stamping technology overcomes these issues by applying up to 20 tons of pressure during the pre-stamping of workpieces. This capability guarantees the creation of precise indentations, even when applied to the hardest of materials. Following pre-stamping, as the teeth of Makro Grip Vices engage exactly with the pre-stamped indents, only relatively low clamping pressure is required to hold the workpiece securely. In addition to holding the workpiece in the vice under the most severe machining conditions, the truncated pyramidal shapes of the pre-stamped indents prevent vice teeth from moving deeper into the workpiece material by providing a defined penetration limit.

Despite the application of comparatively low clamping pressure, the holding forces exerted on workpieces held in Makro Grip vices actually become greater, the harder and more resistant the workpiece material. Moreover, as workpieces are prepared before being loaded into the machine tool, machine downtime reduces significantly.
For further information www.lang-technik.co.uk

£1.7m investment

Lisburn-based manufacturer CASC is investing £1.7m in its business growth through the creation of 26 jobs and the skills development of its team. The SME provides project management and professional labour services for the renewables sector, as well as metal fabrication to the engineering, construction and utilities sectors. Karl Crockard, managing director of CASC, says: “We’ve recently invested in new state-of-the-art tube lasers and a robotic welder to enhance our manufacturing capability and increase productivity and efficiencies. With this in place, we’ve been able to develop a strong pipeline of projects, specifically in the renewable offshore wind sector.”
For further information www.casconline.co.uk

Entry-level machine with large Y-axis stroke

Mazak has responded to market demand for a high-specification entry-level machining centre with a large Y-axis stroke by launching the new VCE-600.

For its category, the UK-built VCE offers a generous table size of 1300 x 600 mm with a large machining envelope, while retaining a compact floor space. Specifically, the VCE-600 offers increased versatility due to its X, Y and Z-axis travel of 1050, 600 and 600 mm respectively, maximising space for workpieces and fixtures.

With productivity at the forefront, the new VCE boasts a 12,000 rpm/18.5 kW/119.4 Nm spindle with an electronic two-speed shift. This specification makes it a versatile choice for a range of materials, with power and speed for machining non-ferrous materials and torque and power for steel.

The VCE-600, the first model of a new range of vertical machining centres, is produced to Mazak’s global manufacturing standards with no compromise on build quality. According to the company, the level of specification mirrors that usually found on premium-priced machines and includes pre-tensioned ballscrews, direct-coupled servomotors and linear roller guides on all axes, resulting in high-accuracy agile machining performance with 36 m/min rapid feed rate on all axes. The machine is equipped with a 24-tool magazine as standard, with options available for 30 and 48 tools.

Mazak’s VCE-600 is equipped with Mazak’s latest CNC, SmoothEz, a high-specification CNC developed for entry-level machines that offers intuitive programming to deliver increased productivity through faster set up, programming and operation.

The 15-inch touchscreen enables programming in two languages, Mazatrol and EIA/ISO for G-code, and is customisable to the operator’s own preferences with a full keyboard.
For further information www.mazakeu.co.uk

Good service leads to repeat HMC sales

When Autocraft Solutions Group, Europe’s largest independent engine builder and remanufacturer, purchased the land and assets of an existing but redundant machine shop in Wellingborough, in June 2018, the company retained four existing Heller four-axis, twin-pallet horizontal machining centres (HMCs) that were already on site. Within weeks, Autocraft was using them to produce cylinder heads and blocks both for its own engine assembly and for delivery to its customers’ production lines on a just-in-time basis.

Autocraft co-owner Mike Hague-Morgan says: “Once we started using the Hellers, we saw how quickly they responded to our requests for aftersales service, including the supply of replacement spindles within 24 to 48 hours. It gave us such a high level of confidence that we decided to take all the stock out and purchase additional Heller HMCs to produce more parts, increasing our profitability.”

Autocraft produces cylinder heads and blocks in medium to low volumes for a range of three- to six-cylinder inline and V6 to V12 engines for automotive and off-highway applications. The four Heller H2000 machining centres were soon joined by another three. Then two further orders, each for three more, were placed during the pandemic to bring the total to 13.

Hague-Morgan says: “During an incredibly difficult trading period, we were still able to grow the business partly because of the service level provided by Heller. We deliver hundreds of engine blocks per week to major production lines and it costs millions of pounds if they stop, so continuity of supply of heads and blocks is critical. Having machines up and running within a day or two after a spindle failure is worth a huge amount to me.”
For further information www.heller.biz

Five-axis machines provide growth opportunities

Speed, power and precision are qualities coveted by Justin and Maryann Schaller, both in terms of the family-owned Schaller Group and in their other shared passion of hydroplane racing. And the speed, power and precision of Starrag’s STC 800 X five-axis machining centres are playing a key role in both their business and their sport.

The brother and sister duo are executives of the Schaller Group, a third-generation Michigan-based precision metal-forming and assembly company that manufactures parts for the aerospace, military, automotive and medical industries.

The Starrag STC 800 X was chosen not only because it is suited to machining complex aluminium workpieces, but also because its precision capabilities, axis configuration and ability to five-axis mill with the use of a rotary table and a 30,000 rpm, 120 kW tilting spindle will enable Schaller to expand into other industry sectors.

With an A-axis range of -100/+60°, no angle heads are necessary for machining complex parts. The rotary table allows economical machining by using a tombstone set-up or multiple parts and fixtures on the same table. Additionally, with two STCs integrated into a manufacturing system, Schaller has high levels of flexibility in production.

“These are the perfect machines for growth,” says business development specialist Maryann Schaller. “We started in the aerospace industry in the 1980s; it’s a great growth market, but we also know the importance of diversifying.”

Schaller selected Starrag machines because they can be utilised in any industry that requires high precision, complex parts including racing vehicles, satellites or electrical vehicles.

“Starrag’s capabilities allows Schaller to meet those diverse needs,” she says.
For further information www.starrag.com