Plalite installs five-axis mill-turn centre

Tony Bess, director of subcontract machinists Plalite Ltd in Sittingbourne, has in the past three years invested £3m in capital equipment.

Included in the purchases were two Japanese-built Speedio M140X2 30-taper mill-turn centres from Brother, supplied by sole UK agent, Whitehouse Machine Tools. The first of the five-axis machines was installed in mid-2017 and proved so successful that a second was added six months later.
Plalite undertakes a lot of work requiring both milling and turning, so the multi-tasking capability of the M140X2s was attractive, as was their compact footprint on the shop floor.
“On the Brother machines, the number of operations needed to produce a part is minimised, there are no concentricity issues, blending is perfect and the tolerances we are able to hold allows us to quote very accurate work,” says Bess.
Short set-up times using milling cutter back ends and the adoption of Lang zero-point quick-change chucks help to maintain profitability by allowing the machines to be changed over quickly, which is especially important when producing components in small batches.
Responding to why he bought machining centres with turning capability – rather than bar automatics having live tooling – for the one-hit production of what are often predominantly rotational parts, Bess says: “With a turn-mill machine you get low milling capacity and a limited number of tools – compared with the 22 stations in the Brother turret – added to which, driven tool heads on lathes lack rigidity, which tends to cause vibration.
“With a mill-turn machine you get quick, very productive prismatic machining capability, and all the tools are in taper holders, which are much more rigid, particularly with simultaneous face contact,” he adds.
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