XYZ appoints commercial manager

Chris Hellier, who has spent his career specialising in manufacturing has joined XYZ Machine Tools as commercial manager. He brings with him extensive experience across a range of industries, as operations manager at a leading automotive component manufacturer, and managing director at both a vehicle adaptation specialist and an industrial fan company. A common thread during all of these previous roles was his purchase of XYZ machines within their production environments.

“It’s fair to say that I had a good knowledge of XYZ Machine Tools prior to this opportunity,” he says. “That knowledge, combined with the chance to put my skills to use in what will be an all-round role of overseeing the ongoing growth and development of XYZ Machine Tools, made it a straightforward decision to take on this position.”

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Hainbuch gets a grip on Irish market

The Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) facility in Rathcoole has recently installed a new Doosan Puma 2600SY II turning centre with work-holding technology from Hainbuch at the heart of the installation.

Working in collaboration with machine supplier Mills CNC, Hainbuch installed its SpannTop mini quick-change dead-length chucks on both spindles of the Doosan Puma, with an 80 mm chuck on the main spindle and a 52 mm system on the sub-spindle. The SpannTop mini incorporates a chuck with a dismountable end-stop plate that ensures precision workpiece clamping without the pull-back effect. SpannTop mini permits quick changeover from outside to inside diameter clamping, or three-jaw clamping, thanks to the flexibility of the modular system.

IMR’s machining applications specialist Chris Judge says: “To demonstrate the full technical capability of the Doosan Puma you need to be using the best work-holding and tooling systems available, so we were delighted to see the Hainbuch system selected.”

The design of the SpannTop mini significantly reduces interference contours and improves tool accessibility, making it suitable for limited space work envelopes. According to Hainbuch, with its compact design and lower mass than alternate systems, the SpannTop mini minimises inertia loss when compared with three-jaw chucks. The dead-length variant installed on the Puma machine converts to a fully functional ‘bar chuck’ when the end-stop plate is removed. Providing workpiece clamping without axial movement of the clamping head, the SpannTop mini clamps workpieces with a short collar or shoulder, even providing part pick-off without the pull-back effect.

Hainbuch UK supplied the SpannTop mini complete with machine adaptions, changing guns and a complement of 10 clamping heads on each spindle for holding a complete variety of components.

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Light at the end of the tunnel

The VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) expects production in the German machine-tool industry to grow by 6% to around €12.6bn in 2021. At the association’s annual press conference, chairman Dr Heinz-Jürgen Prokop (pictured) stated that the improved mood in the economy is raising the willingness to invest. “After two years of great restraint, there is now a strong need to make up ground,” he said.

China is proving to be the principal driving force behind the economic green shoots, particularly for the automotive industry. In Europe, too, the expectations are that investment will rise again by 10% after the major slump. Oxford Economics, the VDW’s forecasting partner, is predicting strong growth of 35% for orders in 2021. According to the VDW, there were already indications of this improvement in November and December.

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Do not wait to automate

One of the repercussions of COVID-19 has been a widespread discussion about bringing more manufacturing back to the UK, and rightly so in the view of work-holding and automation specialist 1st Machine Tool Accessories. But is reshoring large amounts of production realistic in the short term, or is industry unprepared to cope with higher demand and make parts more cost-effectively?

1st MTA is a keen advocate of automating machine tools to achieve savings and regards some level of unattended operation to be crucial for cost-efficient production and generating a healthy profit. However, the company stresses that big investment in expensive robotics is not a prerequisite for success or justifiable in smaller factories. The correct equipment for an application could be as simple as employing hydraulic rather than manual clamping to actuate jaw closure; using a rotary table to add a fourth and perhaps a fifth CNC axis to a three-axis machining centre so that parts can be made in fewer operations or maybe in one hit; or choosing a full-length bar magazine rather than a short barfeed to automate a lathe.

Once there is commitment to invest, is it best to opt for the latest top-level technology or upgrade existing production plant? The former would be the ideal, as it offers not only the most productive and accurate machine-tool technology, but invaluable support from the manufacturer and accessories supplier. Although it requires higher initial investment, this strategy can often lead to a quicker ROI.

For a lower investment, upgrading existing machines is achievable to suit particular applications and sectors, using equipment and accessories readily available. Among the most useful items are those that provide automated and improved work holding, additional CNC axes for deploying the cutting tool more efficiently, and more production capacity through extended periods of autonomous running.

All types of work-holding solutions are available to manufacturers in the UK and Ireland from 1st MTA, mostly under sole agency agreements. The company can offer either off-the-shelf equipment or bespoke solutions to address challenging applications. 1st MTA operates a consultancy service to identify the optimum product for securing prismatic and round components during production.

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Work smarter with MILL P

With fast material removal capabilities and high-rigidity characteristics, GF Machining Solutions says that its Mikron MILL P 500U simultaneous five-axis machining centres deliver accuracy and cutting performance when machining high-precision, complex components made from difficult-to-machine materials. Notably, the thermal stability characteristics of the machines ensures reliable precision over long runs, aided by the integration and availability of smart technology modules.

As well as featuring 1.7 g acceleration/deceleration rates and 45 m/min rapids, the machines are equipped with 36 kW Step-Tec spindles (20,000 rpm) and rotary tilting tables that can accommodate workpieces up to 707 mm in diameter and up to 600 kg in weight. The rotary tilting table (+91/-121° and n x 360°) is available with several options, including T-slot and pallet tables accommodating a payload of 200, 400 or 600 kg.

Incremental, direct-angle measuring systems on the tilting and rotating axes guarantee high positional and repeatable accuracies. Both axes are driven via water-cooled torque motors: one for T-slot tables, and two for pallet tables on the A axis and one on the C axis. For heavy-duty machining, it is possible to clamp the rotary and tilting axes and, for improved machining stability, the titling axis features clamping on both side supports.

As well as the 20,000 rpm Step-Tec HPC190 spindle (with HSK-A63 interface), customers can select Step-Tec’s 36,000 rpm HVC150 motor spindle with HSK-E50 interface. This spindle solution is suitable for mould makers using small cutting tools in conjunction with the aforementioned 1.7 g acceleration to achieve best-in-class surface finishes.

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