Investment doubles business at tool maker

A Scottish precision engineering company and tool maker to the plastics industry has doubled turnover since 2014 when it embarked on a programme of production equipment renewal. A majority of the investment went on four machine tools from Hurco, including three machining centres.

The engineering firm works around the clock servicing numerous industries, including automotive, defence, medical, pharmaceutical, plumbing, food and drink, and electronics, designing and manufacturing different tools from single impression prototype moulds to multi-impression production tools (pictured).

Half of the business comes from manufacturing decorative injection moulds that produce plastic caps and closures for premium bottles of whiskey, gin and other spirits. The designs of the bottle closures – comprising artwork and lettering – mostly require complex, intricate milling with ball-nose cutters, sometimes as small as 50 µm in diameter, held in heat-shrink back ends. Due to the small size of the cutters and the hardness of the tool steels processed – P20, Orvar Supreme, 113 grade and D2 – designs are generally machined into graphite EDM electrodes for subsequent die-sinking into the mould.
A spokesperson for the company says: “Much of the very fine milling is done on our Hurco VM10HSi machining centre.

Installed in 2018, it’s fitted with a Kitagawa rotary table 4th axis, 30,000 rpm spindle and an enclosure mounted on the table with air extraction to remove graphite dust from the working atmosphere. It is also a fantastic machine for high-speed milling directly into hardened materials, which we are doing more and more.”

The two other Hurco machining centre on site are VMX42i and VMX30i models, acquired in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

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