Medical firm installs five-axis Hermle

Medical sector specialist and recent university spin-out, Hooke Bio in Shannon, has purchased a German-built Hermle C250 five-axis VMC through sole UK, Ireland and Middle East agent Kingsbury.

Hooke Bio’s R&D engineer Shane Devitt explains: “We wanted a five-axis machine to produce components in one hit rather than two, as we need to hold tolerances down to ±5 µm and that is difficult if a part has to be re-clamped. Even with a drilled hole, where the accuracy of the diameter is defined by the cutter rather than the machine, it can have a slight offset if it has to be drilled from either side to meet in the middle, and that causes a dramatic alteration to fluid flow.
“Unlike when early prototypes were being made at the University of Limerick on a three-axis VMC of another make, work is now automatically repositioned in-cycle using the rotary axes of the Hermle,” he continues. “It allows us to hold the accuracies we need and there is no tolerance build-up.”
Engineering manager Daniel Murphy adds: “We moved into our new premises in April 2019 and the Hermle arrived soon after. We need to make around 40 different parts for an Enigma prototype platform, half of which are rotational and would normally be produced on a lathe.”
The Enigma platform aims to use 3D cell cultures to generate more-reliable data than current drug screening technologies, and at higher throughput.
“To avoid the expense of investing in a turning centre at this early stage in our business, we make all components on the VMC, despite it not having a torque table and integral turning capability, as that also would have cost more. Round components are produced by circular interpolation milling, and the rigidity of the Hermle ensures that all features are within tolerance.”
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