Black Country toolmaker and subcontractor, Cube Precision Engineering, has installed its largest Hurco machining centre to date, a 3,200 x 2,100 x 920 mm capacity, bridge-type, vertical-spindle DCX32. Delivered at the end of May 2012, it is the fifth machining centre from the same supplier to be purchased.
Few contract machinists in Scotland have a modern, vertical machining centre to match the 2,200 x 1,700 x 750 mm capacity of the Hurco twin-column, bridge-type DCX22 installed at the Coylton works of Ayrshire Precision. This was precisely why managing director, Bert Bradford, purchased the machine on spec in February 2011. Since taking the plunge, the company has secured new work in each of its main industry sectors – mining, nuclear and oil / gas.
The first new job to come along was refurbishment of explosion-proof, steel covers for transformers used in coal mines. They are cooled by water flowing through a hollow jacket, the inner surfaces of which need to be roughened to create turbulence and increase heat transfer to the water. These and other plates up to four metres long are machined for the mining sector on the 50-taper DCX22, the larger workpieces requiring two clampings on the 2,100 x 1,600 mm table.
With a BP quality award hanging on its office wall alongside a platinum award from Cameron Subsea Systems confirming 24 consecutive months' delivery of zero defect products, Blantyre-based Quadscot Precision Engineers is a leading Scottish subcontractor serving the offshore oil and gas sector.
For its prismatic machining requirements, until recently the company relied on 3-axis vertical machining centres (VMCs) including a Hurco VMX1 installed in 2008 and a 12-year-old VMX42 with Nikken 4th axis. As part of an on-going investment programme in new plant, two further, larger VMCs were purchased from the same supplier at the beginning of 2010. The objective was to bring the subcontractor's milling capacity more into line with its 1.5 metre by 500 mm diameter turning capability. One of the new Hurcos, Quadscot's first 5-axis model, was a VMX60SR. It has a 1,525 x 660 x 610 mm working volume, a horizontal rotary C-axis table and a ± 92 degree B-axis head that allows the 36 kW, 40-taper spindle to be positioned within a program anywhere between vertical and horizontal. Renishaw tool and part probing have been fitted to speed set-ups.
Founded in 1987 as a mouldmaker and subcontract machinist specialising in wire and spark erosion and manual milling, RST Engineering, Leighton Buzzard, installed a Hurco Hawk 30 CNC mill in 1998 to speed electrode production and other prismatic machining jobs. It was not until 2007 that the company traded in the Hawk for a 3-axis Hurco VM2 vertical machining centre, taking advantage of automatic tool change to fulfill contracts more economically for increasingly complex aerospace, medical and motorsport components. Two years later, owner Jason Taylor and his team progressed to 5-axis machining on a Hurco VMX30U machining centre, with very positive results. It was bought initially to reduce production costs when the manufacture of prototype housings for aircraft on the VM2 moved to large batch runs.
When BAW Precision Engineering Ltd emerged from the global downturn under new ownership in July 2010, the primary aim for the new directors of the Swansea Valley company was to build the order book and re-establish the subcontractors’ prestigious reputation.
Parts for instrumentation used in space observation, both terrestrial and satellite-based, are machined to tight tolerances on two Hurco vertical machining centres (VMCs) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), near Didcot.
Bowtech Products was established 22 years ago as an importer of products used for underwater applications, but now designs and manufactures its own equipment. Exports currently account for two-thirds of turnover, which has helped to double the size of the business over the last five years and was one of the reasons for the company winning the Subsea UK Global Export Award 2012, sponsored by Scottish Enterprise.
Manufacture of components has historically been subcontracted but is gradually being brought in-house to control costs and quality as well as to shorten lead times from weeks to days. Two CNC lathes and a machining centre from Hurco underpin this activity at Bowtech's production facility on the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, near Aberdeen airport.
A workshop servicing one of the UK's leading scientific research facilities, the Diamond Light Source synchrotron near Didcot, has installed new machine tools from Hurco that cut cycle times by up to 60 per cent.
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in research and development activity at medical device manufacturing facilities around Galway, while the same area in the west of Ireland has also seen a surge in the growth of companies in the biosciences field.