Advanced chip breaking at Sub CNC

Like most turned parts subcontractors, Sub CNC Precision uses its 14 twin-spindle, multi-axis bar autos, in this case all from Citizen Machinery UK, to turn-mill parts in one hit from a wide variety of metals that extend from mild and stainless steels, through copper and aluminium alloys, to exotics such as Monel, Inconel and titanium. Likewise, the company produces components from many types of plastic including nylon, PEEK and Delrin.

The list of industries served is also long, encompassing aerospace and defence, telecommunications, motorsport, automotive, marine, agricultural and medical, the latter accounting for 20% of turnover in an average year.
So when Rolls-Royce was trying to find a suitable firm to produce a particularly difficult pair of plastic components for the Ventilator Challenge UK, it is unsurprising that its email list included ISO 9001:2008-accredited Sub CNC, whose name had been passed to the government’s consortium by Citizen, which had been identified as a critical supplier.
One of the reasons for Sub CNC winning this plastic turn-milling work, as well as subsequent urgent medical contracts, is the option to use on four of its 12 Citizen sliding-head lathes the manufacturer’s patented LFV chip-breaking software. The machining of plastic materials, as well as many metals, results in stringy swarf wrapping itself around the tool and component, forcing the operator to stop the machine frequently for remedial action, compromising productivity. LFV avoids this situation by oscillating the tool by a few tens of microns to break the swarf into small, manageable pieces, the length of which can actually be programmed.
The two components for Rolls-Royce required the use of sliders capable of turning 32 mm diameter bar. At Sub CNC, the only machine of this capacity equipped with LFV is an L32-VIII, which was deployed for producing the most difficult part with drilled and milled features.
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CNC apprentice key to ventilator push

A 20-year-old CNC machining apprentice is playing a key role in manufacturing over 150,000 critical turned parts for the NHS.

Jacob Benton, who is studying towards his HNC Level 4 with In-Comm Training, is working around the clock with the manufacturing team at Cannock-based Key Precision to produce up to nine different components for use in ventilators being built for the frontline.
The young engineer has programmed three different CNC machines to create five oxygen supply line parts, completing the complex task in just a few hours of receiving the order so the company can meet urgent timelines set by the consortium.
Key Precision is a specialist manufacturer of precision turned parts, inserts for plastic and sheet-metal fasteners, supplying high-profile customers such as Aston Martin, Bentley, JCB and Rolls-Royce. The company, which employs 25 people, has worked with In-Comm Training for more than 20 years, accessing upskilling courses and forklift training for its workforce.
Greg Jackson, engineering and quality director at Key Precision, adds his support: “We are big fans of growing our own talent and actively look to recruit budding engineers who want to go to the very top of our business. Jacob is a prime example. From the minute he stepped on to the shop floor, he has shown a real appetite to learn from his peers, attack new challenges and use his own initiative to come up with solutions.
“In-Comm Training has given him a fantastic grounding in engineering and the ability to continue learning with our support,” adds Jackson. “He really has been instrumental in the ventilator project.”
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SwissNano 7 available from Tornos

The new SwissNano 7 is now available in the UK from Tornos. Previously only offered in a 4 mm diameter variant, the 7 mm capacity SwissNano 7 retains the advantages of the 4 mm model, such as the kinematics and thermal stability, to deliver high performance and precision when machining small turned parts.


Notably, the original machining capacity of 4 x 28 mm has been boosted to 7 x 50 mm, while spindle power has more than doubled (to 2.5 kW) to machine bars from the hardest materials. According to Tornos, the small footprint and machine design means SwissNano 7 occupies the same space as a cam-type machine and can therefore increase output per square metre compared with other CNC machines.
The six-axis kinematics offer numerical adjustment of all tool positions in the X, Y and Z directions. At the heart of the concept is the back spindle mounted on three linear axes, which makes the machine extremely user friendly. The main platen includes three positions for the rotating tools; it can hold transverse drills, a polygon tool or a gear-hobbing tool. This capability opens up the potential of machining operations not previously possible on this range.
Tornos’ SwissNano 7 is suitable for the medical sector when complemented with the addition of a thread-whirling unit. This attachment enables the machine to be used for the production of maxillofacial screws, and can prove a good partner when it comes to the machining of screws for dental implants or straight implants. The machine can also be equipped with high-frequency spindles for back-machining operations, which allows the machine to mill hexalobular (Torx) shapes.
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Driven-tool turning centres

A new range of CNC turning centres with live tooling in the turret has been introduced by Hurco. The three models – TM8Mi XP, TM10Mi XP and TM12Mi XP – cover the 8-, 10- and 12-inch chuck sizes required by most manufacturers.

Hurco previously sold a range of driven-tool lathe models designated TMM, but their performance was limited as they were not controlled by the proprietary Max5 control that has proved so popular on the company’s machining centres due to features such as concurrent programming and recovery restart.
The new lathe control system, an in-house development by Hurco’s software engineers, was first introduced on the XP-series of two-axis lathes in early 2018. This all-digital control platform was delivered alongside improvements to the design of the machine, including a smaller footprint, roller guideways in the linear axes, a larger spindle bore and enhanced rigid tapping.
A primary reason for developing the TM Mi XP range, in addition to adding the superior features of the Max5 control, was to ensure that driven-tool milling is smooth and accurate. The machines include a servo-controlled C axis and the capability to deploy driven tools at all turret positions, allowing milling and off-centre drilling to be performed in addition to normal turning operations.
Two machines are currently in the UK, a demonstration model at Hurco in High Wycombe and another on trial at a customer’s factory. The first machines available for sale will arrive later this month. These models will be the new 8-inch chuck version which, compared with the former TMM lathes, offer higher spindle power at 22.6 kW, a spindle bore increased from 62 to 79 mm, a draw tube diameter of 64.5 mm (up from 52 mm), and faster rapids at 30 m/min (previously 24 m/min).
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Magnetic filter boosts lathe tool life

Sheffield-based Gripple has enjoyed a 50% increase in tool life and 44% reduction in downtime on its Star sliding-head CNC lathe by installing a MicroMag magnetic filter from Eclipse Magnetics.

In order to satisfy its environmental commitments, Gripple was keen to maximise efficiency and reduce waste on the lathe, which included exploring ways to prolong coolant life and enable the coolant flow system to work as efficiently as possible.
Since installing the MicroMag, the build-up of swarf material in the bottom tank of the Star machine has been significantly reduced, while the coolant flow system is working more efficiently due to the reduction in swarf circulating in the coolant. In contrast, before the addition of the MicroMag, the bottom tank of the CNC lathe needed to be cleaned approximately every month. There has been such a significant reduction in swarf collecting in the tank that it now only needs cleaning every 50 days. As a result, Gripple can reduce the frequency of cleaning from 12 times per year to just over seven. In addition, the bottom tank previously took approximately 45 minutes to clean, but has since reduced to just 25 minutes.
The tool change data is also impressive since the installation of the MicroMag. For example, on some tool locations, the number of EN1A (leaded) steel components produced has increased by 50% before the tool requires replacement; from 10,000 to 15,000 parts.
Gripple employee Jake Slaughter says: “The MicroMag is a great addition to the lathe and really improves the way it runs. In the long term, I estimate that the company will be able to produce a lot more components with MicroMag units installed on all of the machines.”
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