“As I grew my business from an engineering prototype shop, I found that I could not compete for the production contracts on the jobs I had prototyped. My Hurco VMX30 was the perfect solution. Now I can move from prototype to production on the shop floor. No need for off-line programming overhead or hard to find CNC machinist. I now have a clear path to grow my business to the next level.”
To Keep a Big New Customer, a Startup Company Turns to Hurco to Deliver a Needed Machine Fast.Story and photos by C. H. Bush, editor / As Seen in CNC West, An Arnold Publication Serving the Western Metalworking Industry Since 1981
Okay, here’s the scenario. You’ve dreamed of having your own business from the time you were ten years old in grammar school in Mexico. The kids laughed at you and said, “What are you talking about? That’s for old people. Old people think about that!” But you didn’t care. Later you go to the Institute of Technology in Mexicali, Mexico. After graduation, you work in Mexico for a while as a manual machinist. Eventually you come to America where you work really hard in a variety of companies for a couple of years each, learning all you can at each one. You never stay at one job long enough to rise into management, but again, you don’t care. You’re thinking ahead to your future. You want to learn mold work and how to solve tough machining problems, so you can start your own business. Of course, you’ve been saving your money all along. Finally, you buy a manual mill and stick it in your garage, and you’re in business. But you keep your day job. You get a customer who wants you to build prototypes. You’re happy. Your dream is starting to become a reality. But then that customers says, “Look, we just landed a good contract. We want you to make the parts for us. Can you do it?” You panic. You can’t meet their demands with your manual equipment. And you don’t know anything about CNC programming. What do you do? “That’s exactly what happened to me,” says Carlos Sarabia, founder-president of Mesa, AZ’s Custom Tech Services, LLC. “I had a project for one of my customers, who knew I was working on the side. The parts required a CNC machine to be able to produce them consistently, and all I had was a manual knee mill. I had seen mills with conversational programming before, which I figured I could learn quick, so I called up a company and ordered a CNC knee mill. I told them I needed it in my garage in two weeks. They said fine."CNC operator Fidel Sanchez checks a part produced on a Hurco VM30. In the background, CNC machinist-operator Charles Masters works at a Hurco VM1, while CNC operator Ervin Velasquez sets up the company’s latest Hurco, a VMX30. The company now operates 9 Hurco machining centers, including 2 TM6 lathes, a TM8 lathe, 3 VM1 mills, 1 VM2 mills, 1 VM3 and a VMX30. All Hurcos in the shop have conversational programming, and all are capable of being programmed offline as well, using the company’s seat of Mastercam.
Hurco to the RescueTwo weeks later there was no machine. “I was in trouble,” says Sarabia. “I had told my customer I could do it. They needed parts in a couple of days. I was out of time. Then I remembered talking to Randy Flores from D&R Machine, the Hurco representative in my area, so I cancelled the other order and called Randy.“I asked him if he could get me a machine in two days,” he says. “He said he didn’t have any, but he knew someone who was selling an old Hurco KN3 with an Ultimax CNC control on it. He gave me the information, and I drove there immediately. The machine was in a body shop, never used by the owner. I told him I wanted to buy his machine. And he said he didn’t know if it worked or not. We plugged it in and checked it out. Everything worked fine. I paid him and hauled it back to my garage that same day. I read the manual, plugged it in, and four hours later I was making parts! Hurco had saved my customer for me. I never forgot that. That was back in 2003, and I still have that machine. I love it because it helped me start my business.” Since those early days, Sarabia’s business has grown at an amazing rate, he says, and though it all, he has remained loyal to Hurco. A few months after getting his first Hurco kneemill, Sarabia landed a bigger client, which demanded a bigger machine. “I got a really good customer about two months after I got the KN3,” he recalls. “I was doing all the prototyping for them. They were doing work for military ground vehicles, a lot of protective armor. They finally landed a really good contract based on all the prototyping I was doing. They called me and said they needed a lot of parts, and they wanted me to do them. They liked my work because when I saw something on the design that made the parts more expensive, I’d call the engineers and tell them. Anyway, I knew I couldn’t do the production on my kneemill. I needed a bigger, closed machine, so I called Randy Flores again for help. I told him my customer needed parts right away, and I had to have a vertical mill and a lathe as soon as possible, but that I needed the lathe in my garage immediately. I didn’t have room for the mill.” Once again, Hurco delivered, Sarabia says. “They shipped a TM6 lathe to my house in one weeks,” he recalls. “I never had worked on a CNC lathe before, but it was a Hurco with a conversational control, which I already understood from the kneemill. The lathe was not much different. I got a few hours of training from D&R, and after that I learned by myself. We got the machine set up, and the next day we were running parts. It was very very simple to use, a very simple control. Carlos Sarabia enters data into the conversational WinMax control on a Hurco VMX30 vertical mill. He bought Hurco originally because he needed to make parts fast and didn’t understand CNC programming. He now has 9 Hurcos in his shop.Sarabia moved out of his garage soon after taking delivery of the Hurco TM6 lathe.“I had to find a bigger place fast,” he says. “I had ordered the VM2, which wouldn’t fit in my garage, and I needed to make parts. So, I leased a 1700 square-foot industrial space for two and a half years. Once we got in that space, we just kept growing. Every time we bought another Hurco, we got more business.”In 2009 Sarabia bit the bullet and bought a modern 5,600 square-foot facility, his current location. Today Custom Tech Services employs 3 shop people, plus Sarabia himself, who operates machines and does everything else to keep the business going. Hurco ShopSarabia calls his shop a Hurco shop. “We operate 9 Hurco machines here,” he says. “We have two TM6 and a TM8 lathe, three VM1 mills, two VM2 mills and a VMX30. A lot of people have the idea that Hurco is only for prototype work. But, I started using Hurco for production right from the beginning. And they’ve been great. We’re cutting aluminum, steel, titanium, and we consistently are able to hold tolerances to one or two tenths. I have my first VM2 machine running really heavy titanium, and I still hold tolerance within a couple of tenths on it. You wouldn’t believe how many hours that machine has run. On the first project I got, we were running the VM2 about seven days a week, sixteen hour shifts, probably 90 hours a week. It consistently held tolerance within two tenths and it was extremely reliable. These are great production machines, especially considering the price.”Sarabia operates one seat of Mastercam to handle programming that can’t be done directly on the Hurco controller. “The truth is about 98% of the jobs we run can be programmed directly on the machine,” he says. “Maybe 2% need to be done offline with Mastercam. One really good thing about conversational programming is that it makes it really easy to train new employees. The learning curve is unbelievably short. The controller asks you what you want to do, you answer, and the next thing you know, you’re running parts.What About the Future?As successful as he has been in such a short time, Sarabia might be expected to want to keep growing as fast as possible. “Well, I’m pretty conservative,” he says. “We’ve grown the past two years right through the recession. We’ve paid off all our equipment, so we’re not in debt, which makes it nice. I have a good shop for probably eight people. But I’m a little bit scared to try to move up to become a midsize shop with 20 or more people. That’s kind of dangerous, especially with the economy so unstable. Right now I very happy to sit back and enjoy the success we’ve had, and to give our customers the best quality service we can. Maybe someday when the economy takes off again, we’ll rethink our position. Until then, I’ll just remember where I started and stay happy.”
This is a submission from our "Why I Love Hurco" Sweepstakes.
I want to win the TM6 lathe. I own a small start up company, Fundamentally Fast LLC, that specializes in high-end aftermarket bicycle components, all made in the USA. My products make people on bikes go faster. Your products make people like me develop products faster, get to market faster, and turn inventory faster. A nice match indeed.
The TM6 is perfect for my budding company because it directly addresses my needs for a turning center:Prototyping I design and machine all prototypes in-house. This reduces time to market and lets me iterate quickly to optimal designs. The conversational programming features of the Hurco WinMax control is ideally suited to get from idea to part quickly while maintaining the flexibility to make on-the-fly changes. The grooving and hole cycle blocks will radically simplify my programming and the Solid Model Verification Graphics will ensure I'm cutting what I intend. Short run production I have to keep my inventory turning and have the flexibility to stay ahead of my competitors. With 12 tools, 99 tool offsets, and an operator friendly size, the TM6 will let me changeover quickly to meet unpredictable demands. Furthermore, as demands increase I can use a bar-puller with confidence by checking machine condition on the UltiMonitor, to free me up while the TM6 is doing its job.Compact Size My space is extremely constrained, so the small footprint of the TM6 will give me some room to grow in the future. Looking forward to working on a Hurco in the near future! Cheers, Josh CoaplenFundamentally Fast, LLCAsheville, NC 28803
This is a submission from our "Why I Love Hurco" Sweepstakes.
Control Is Easy to Learn
I have operated a Hurco VM1 for several years. I have come to appreciate the Hurco control and its ease of use. Having never used a conversational control, I found it extremely easy to learn. You can go from print to program in minutes.
Built to Last
I am also impressed with the rigidity of Hurco VMC’s. We have 7 Hurco mills at Detroit Tool and Engineering. As you can imagine, these mills have taken a beating over the years. I am amazed how they have recovered after some of the crashes I have witnessed.
Most of our Hurcos are more than 15 years old and still going strong. They all hold tight tolerances even after the forementioned abuse. I think it is clear to see why Hurco will continue to strand out in a crowd. If I was ever to open a shop of my own, I would definitely choose Hurco for my CNC needs!Jeff Read
Once the beta test began at M-Tech Lab in Indianapolis for a new Hurco software feature, cycle time was cut by 30% and machine jerk was virtually eliminated. President and M-Tech founder Tom Miller said he seeks speed versus accuracy for the type of machining M-Tech does. “We are builders of custom orthotics...We focus on throughput and speed. With UltiMotion we’re seeing 30-35% faster throughput,” said Miller.
The majority of the orthotics M-Tech machines are custom designed to a person’s foot, but all of them are elliptical in shape and have contours throughout. UltiMotion handles such complex geometry easily because the spindle can cut very fast in a smooth elliptical motion. The secret to UltiMotion is the advanced trajectory algorithm in the software that generates significantly faster yet smoother motion than conventional motions systems that rely on hardware. Controlling motion with software versus hardware is theoretically a simple idea, but development of UltiMotion was a complex and comprehensive project with the best software engineers in the world pushing the envelope of motion control. The advancements in motion control are so significant that Hurco was awarded a patent for UltiMotion with several other patents pending.
Tom MillerM Tech Lab8653 Bash StreetIndianapolis, IN 46256www.mtechlab.com
Two-thirds of Portchester Engineering’s turnover comes from subcontract production of metal and plastic components for the marine industry, shipbuilders as well as offshore oil and gas platform operators being regular customers. To provide additional capacity for machining smaller prismatic parts within a 660 x 356 x 457 mm envelope, the company has added an entry-level Hurco VM1 vertical machining centre to its plant list.
Samantha Morrison, who bought the six-employee company from a family member in 2002, joined the firm in the early 1990s when all of the mills and lathes on the shop floor were manually operated. Now there are three machining centres and the same number of CNC lathes in addition to manual machines. Over the years, the customer base has expanded to include the motorsport and scientific instrumentation sectors.
One Friday morning in August 2005, a mince pie arrived in a taxi at the Crewe works of subcontractor, Vector Precision, with the request that the crust be reverse-engineered and a mould made for its volume production. Owners Tony Bourne and Les Ford set about measuring the dimensions of the nine thumb impressions around the periphery of the pie, which was the unique feature of the product. It then took them around 15 minutes to program their Hurco VM1 machining centre to mill the required mould.
“We are also currently working on additional designs for the other sports. So watch out rugby fans.”
"The Hurco control makes it easy to get the part from my head to the control.”
Shane Sievers, Lead Machinist, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Indianapolis, USA
In racing, there are millions of things that happen before the driver even gets in the car that make a race team more competitive. As Dreyer & Reinbold Racing geared up for the 2011 season, they looked to their machine shop for a competitive edge. The Hurco 5-axis VMX42SR and mill-turn TMX8MYS were installed at their 35,000 square foot facility in Indianapolis in March of 2011.
“We never know what’s coming next....which is a lot like a job shop environment,” says Shane Sievers, the lead machinist at DRR. Sievers started machining back in the days of punch tape and has run numerous brands of CNC machines. He had always run G-code until Hurco.
“I truly love these machines. Being able to program at the machine is my favorite thing. With the VMX42SR, I can do 5-axis [5-sided] work without having to use the CAM system or G-code. Transform Plane is the feature that makes it easy,” says Sievers.
Another reason the Hurco CNC machines are perfect for the race team’s shop is the ability to minimize setup time. “50 parts is a big run for us so it’s important to have a machine that reduces setup time,” says Sievers. The 5-sided process on the VMX42SR, Sievers eliminates three setups on just one part, which saves him at least 30 minutes per part.
“In a lot of ways, we’re like a prototype shop. I’ll get a call when the team is on the race track and they’ll say they need a new part tomorrow morning. Sometimes I have a print. Sometimes I sketch it out on a piece of paper. The Hurco control makes it easy to get the part from my head to the control. That’s what I love about being a machinist for an IndyCar team. No day is ever the same. And our Hurcos are made to handle that kind of quick turnaround and the need for constant flexibility.” Even though Sievers says he loves both the VMX42SR and TMX8MYS, he does have a favorite that he thinks might surprise some people.
“If they made me choose, I would choose the TMX8MYS lathe with live tooling. This last software upgrade has been a game changer on the lathe. The verification graphics are phenomenal and the control just makes everything so easy.“
In the last three years, the number of Hurco vertical machining centres on the shop floor at Tool & Gauge, Co Sligo, Ireland, has trebled to six, and the mould- and tool-maker has also invested in computer-aided engineering software from Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks and Delcam.
Blackpool-based Aerolux, a world leader in the manufacture of aircraft galley insert equipment such as ovens, refrigerators, wine chillers and coffee makers, has stolen a march on its two main competitors in Germany and the USA by CNC machining many components that were previously fabricated. Half of all prismatic parts are now machined from solid aluminium on two Hurco vertical machining centres installed in the Spring of 2004 and 2005 respectively. While safety-critical parts in aircraft are always produced this way to prevent the risk of crack generation, food-related equipment in the galley has traditionally been fabricated.
The benefits to Aerolux and its customers are considerable, as parts are quicker and less expensive to make by milling than by welding. Managing director, Ken Metcalfe, says that a fridge door and frame, for example, would require 10 to 12 hours in the fabrication shop whereas they are machined on a Hurco VMX42 in less than half the time. A further advantage is that components are more repeatable than when welded, which introduces distortion, so parts assemble more accurately from batch to batch. Moreover there are no welds to fettle, so a lot of finishing has been eliminated.
Installation of a Hurco vertical machining centre (VMC) in the toolroom at the Ross-on-Wye factory of rubber mouldings manufacturer, Wye Valley Precision Engineering, has resulted in much faster availability of mould tools compared with when the company was using a manual-tool-change CNC mill. A typical middle plate in P20 tool steel is now programmed and machined in six hours, whereas the same job used to take a week. Said machine operator, Matthew Griffiths, "Programming was very time-consuming using our previous machine because the control system did not accept the DXF file output from our CAD system. So after a mould was designed, I had to program every feature manually at the control and the complexity of the tools meant that there was a risk of making errors, which were subsequently difficult to find and correct."This contrasts with the user friendliness of the Ultimax control fitted to the Hurco VMX-24 VMC, installed in April this year (2003). Mr Griffiths advised that the twin-screen CNC system not only reads DXF files directly and automatically generates tool paths from them, but also has powerful on-board software to simplify creation of the entire part program.
Read how this sub-contractor reduced machining time from 60 minutes to 8 minutes by switching from 3-axis to 5-axis.
The installation of two new Hurco machining centres has allowed Lancashire subcontractor, A&G Precision, to attract more work and produce components more efficiently in fewer set-ups.
The company is a leading producer of complex components used in key military and civil aircraft programmes. It is also active in other sectors, principally defence, marine, petrochemical, motorsport, rail and pharmaceutical engineering.In addition to batch production of high-precision components, A&G provides a range of additional services including prototyping, sub-assembly manufacture and reverse engineering.