Growth drives need for five-axis machining

Investment Casting Systems, which provides a mix of toolmaking and injection moulding services to customers, has seen turnover increase by 51% over the past three years, with forecast growth of 40% to year ending 2019.

This growth, combined with planned future expansion that will double existing floor space, has created a need for even greater manufacturing efficiency. As part of this efficiency drive, the company has purchased its first five-axis machining centre, a UMC-5X from XYZ Machine Tools.
“We started investigating the purchase of a five-axis machining centre about 18 months ago,” says Investment Casting Systems’ technical director James Head. “Initially we were looking at machines with up to 2 m table capacity, but our customer profile changed, which meant we didn’t need such large capacity. This opened the door to the XYZ UMC-5X with its 600 mm diameter trunnion rotary table and 600 mm travels in the X and Y axes.”
The move to simultaneous five-axis machining immediately brought the benefit that Investment Casting Systems was seeking: increased efficiency. The very first job that went on the XYZ UMC-5X was a complex bolster for an injection mould tool that required machining on all six faces. Using existing three-axis machines would have required six set-ups, but this was reduced to two on the XYZ UMC-5X. The result was a saving of 60% in manufacturing time, the elimination of any potential inconsistencies from multiple set-ups and, by making use of a fixture plate, all faces were machined from the same datum point.
“This first experience proved we had made the right decision in adopting five-axis machining to gain efficiency in manufacturing,” says Head. “We have seen similar time savings as we have progressed.”
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