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.”
For further information www.starrag.com
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.”
For further information www.millscnc.co.uk
Now available from Ward CNC are the Hartford SW216 and Hartford LG500 machining centres. Suitable for larger capacity work, the Hartford SW216 is a double-column, bridge-type travelling-table VMC with a 2 x 1.45 m table that can support the machining of parts up to 7000 kg. With X, Y and Z-axis travel of 2 x 1.6 x 780 mm, this 50-taper spindle workhorse has an 18.5 kW spindle motor for heavy cutting operations, regardless of material type.
Ward CNC says that the SW216 offers a blend of flexibility, rigidity and performance for the machining of large components. From an optional perspective, the machine is available with 22 or 26 kW spindle motors, a 32, 40 or 60-position ATC, and the choice of FANUC, Heidenhain or Hartrol Plus CNC control.
Also available is the Hartford LG500. Pitched as a high-quality, robust and capable three-axis machining centre, the LG500 has a competitive price point. With a 24-position ATC, an 8000 rpm high-torque 5.5 kW spindle motor and a BT40 spindle taper, Ward CNC says the Hartford LG500 is suitable for any machine shop.
Available with a FANUC or Hartrol Plus CNC interface, the Hartford LG500 is offered with a list of options. The Hartrol Plus interface has a 19” touchscreen control with an ergonomic angular operation panel. Behind this configuration, is the facility for five groups of value-added app, which include program management, operational assistant, machine monitoring, utilisation rates and maintenance support, all with an array of options that ensure ease-of-use and high functionality.
For further information www.wardcnc.com
The tool-making division of Gateshead-based TDX, which supplies services and tools to the thin-film plastic thermoforming industry, mainly for food packaging applications, has started to automate its machine shop. The latest purchase is a German-built Hermle five-axis machining centre with a 20-pallet storage system installed by UK agent Kingsbury, which is now working 24/7.
Two members of the management buyout team that purchased TDX in 2013, Neil Atkinson and David Renton, were especially pleased to progress the investment. Five-axis machining was usually the bottleneck at the 24,000 sq ft tool-making facility, and it normally fell to the two directors to go into the factory two or three times on both Saturday and Sunday to change over five non-automated five-axis machining centres.
Since the Hermle C250 with linked HSFlex automated pallet change system entered production, weekend visits have been unnecessary. Each aluminium thermoforming mould billet is pre-machined on one face and then milled on the other five sides internally and externally in one operation in from four to six hours. So 20 pallets equates to an average of 100 hours’ machining on the Hermle, which is more than enough to keep the production cell busy non-stop from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
Atkinson says: “The automated milling cell has not only eliminated manual intervention at weekends, but requires minimal attendance during the week, releasing the operator for other tasks. We approached six potential suppliers, all of which carried out machining trials. Kingsbury demonstrated the fastest cycle time on the Hermle, approximately 10% quicker than the best of the others. Surface finish was also better.”
For further information www.kingsburyuk.com
Underlining its commitment to the British machine-tool industry, Yamazaki Mazak has launched its latest simultaneous five-axis machining centre – the CV5-500 – which will be the only machine in its class to have been completely conceived, designed and built in the UK. The CV5-500, which is currently being manufactured at Mazak’s Worcester plant, is being marketed at a highly competitive price point, making it suited to subcontractors, start-ups and job shops.
Mazak’s versatile five-axis machine features a high-rigidity bridge construction and a fully supported travelling trunnion table.
“While the numbers of British machine-tool builders have dwindled over time, Mazak has continued to invest in its UK R&D and production facilities,” says Alan Mucklow, managing director UK & Ireland sales and service division at Yamazaki Mazak. “The CV5-500 is the latest in a long line of Mazak machines to have been fully designed and built in Britain.”
Mazak’s CV5-500 features a newly designed constant overhang headstock to maintain machining rigidity, even at the full extent of the Z-axis stroke. The machine is equipped with a 12,000 rpm spindle offering 18.5 kW and 119.4 Nm, making it suitable for a range of materials. An optional 18,000 rpm spindle, which includes core cooling through the X-, Y- and Z-axis ball-screws, is available for high-speed applications.
The CV5-500 is equipped with a high-rigidity Sankyo table, driven with roller gear cam that provides a wide angle of rotation, specifically 220º in the B axis and 360º in the C axis. The CV5-500 delivers agile performance, with rapid traverse rates of 36 m/min in the X, Y and Z axes, and can process workpieces up to 500 mm in diameter by 320 mm tall, and up to 200 kg in weight.
For further information www.mazakeu.co.uk