Productivity doubled at Stratos

At Stratos Precision Engineering in Gloucester, where the subcontract machining of plastic parts constitutes the vast majority of output, the manufacture of a particular component was causing problems exacerbated by the need to produce around 5000 per year.

The component in question is an acrylic manifold block for a flow control device that previously had to be clamped three times in conventional vices mounted side by side on the table of a Haas VF4 vertical machining centre. This process has now been replaced by a more modern clamping system based on a four-sided tombstone and indexing trunnion supplied by 1st Machine Tool Accessories.
To be specific, the solution is a US-manufactured Chick indexing subsystem that consists of a Multi-Lok having four faces, each carrying a twin-position Qwik-Lok clamp that secures two parts at once against a central jaw each time the handle is wound to closure. The whole arrangement is mounted horizontally on a fourth CNC axis comprising, in this case, a Haas HRT210 rotary table and Chick tailstock.
Notable among the benefits is that the operator is now able to fixture eight plastic billets at a time, close the machine doors, walk away for an hour to do other jobs, and return to unload eight parts machined on three faces, ready for a second operation to mill away material from the back face. The previous strategy of using three individual vices meant that the operator had to be in almost permanent attendance to open the doors, reset the components and close the doors, to be able to extract one finished part every 15 minutes.
Output is thus doubled, despite the cutters being in contact with the material for a similar length of time. The saving comes purely through less handling of the components, coupled with the need to program fewer tool changes.
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