Matt Smith, owner of The Precision Edge Machine, needed a mill that he could learn to program quickly because he specializes in high tolerance, low-volume parts for medical devices, the aerospace industry, and power sports. Additionally, he manufactures custom wheels and snowmobile parts from his Zimmerman, Minnesota shop, which is about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
From Turning to Milling
“When I started The Precision Edge, it was a turning-only shop. I bought a 1993 KM3P CNC Knee Mill to do secondary milling operations on the turned parts, but I was amazed at how capable a machine of that size was and how easy it was to program. A year later, business was really beginning to take off. My customers were impressed with the milled parts and orders for 50 or more parts kept coming in. That was a problem. The KM3 didn’t have a tool changer. I was the tool changer. Purchasing a CNC mill was a huge decision, but I knew it was time to take the leap,” explains Smith.
During the decision-making process, Smith knew he needed an accurate machine that was reliable and would last. He also knew he needed conversational programming that was intuitive and easy to learn.
“I didn’t want to deal with the expense and maintenance costs of a CAM package. For me, the Hurco conversational control was the perfect solution because I was a lathe guy,” says Smith.
His first CNC mill was the Hurco VM10 and he says he never looked back.“The Hurco control was really easy to learn. I pretty much taught myself. A former co-worker came to the shop for about two hours and I was able to figure out everything else as I went along…the added speed and capacity of the VM10 absolutely sky-rocketed sales. Sales increased so much that I had to move to a bigger building six months later. I was able to hire a full-time employee and bought two used turning centers one month after moving in—all because the VM10 was so efficient!” says Smith.
Smith says about eight months later, he realized he needed to add more CNC milling capacity because the VM10 was so backlogged with work.
Shop's Growth Leads to a Second Hurco
“The decision to buy another Hurco was a no brainer. The employee that I had hired eight months prior had no previous CNC programming experience. In eight months he learned how to program, set up and run jobs with little supervision. That is a testament to the power of the WinMax control!”
This time Matt bought a VM20 with a H160 4th axis. The VM20 was the perfect size machine eliminates the need to fixture parts for complicated side profile machining,” explains Smith.
The Most Valuable Control Features for Matt's Shop: Hurco DXF and the Advanced Verification Graphics
The two features Smith has found to be the most useful are DXF Transfer and the Solid Model Verifications Graphics. Hurco’s DXF Transfer feature lets Matt import part geometry from the dxf file directly to control. While other controls have similar features, Hurco’s DXF Transfer has an easy programming interface that allows you to edit DXF geometry, automatically chain contours, and select a group of hole operations based on the hole diameter. It also handles all 2D geometries on each plane of the part and multiple part planes can be linked into a single program, which is extremely efficient for processing complex parts on compound rotary tables.
“Bar none the verification graphics has been the most valuable. That feature alone has saved us thousands of dollars because of sudden rapid moves, wrong tool paths, broken tools and scrap materials. If you fat fingered a button. You put negative instead of positive. In that graphics screen you can see clearly if the part looks like it’s supposed to,” explains Smith.
Smith’s five-year plan is to double his business each year. To do that he says he will focus on what has worked during the first five years: outstanding service, quality parts, and the right equipment.
“Hurco has been instrumental with the success of our business. I can say without any doubt that we would not be the shop we are today without the support of Hurco. As time goes on we will hopefully be able to replace our turning centers with Hurcos,” says Smith.
In addition to relying on Hurco technology for fast turnaround of small batch part production, Smith will continue to run a customer-centric business. “I believe my customers’ needs are of the utmost importance. I take pride in every finished part we make. I really focus on providing customers with fast, courteous service, quality parts, and on-time delivery. So far, that formula has given me a lot of repeat business and referrals.”
Matt's Shop was featured in Modern Machine Shop magazine.To read the article, click this link
The Precision Edge Machine
25730 7th Street West, Suite 1
Zimmerman, MN 55398
Lou Ferriero was working in a plastics vacuum forming house when he identified a market that wasn’t being served. When he started PlasTech Machining and Fabrication Inc., he had one employee (himself) and one manual machine. Today, PlasTech has nine employees, six vertical machining centers, one 5 axis machining center, three turning centers, and Ferriero is thinking about upgrading to a multi-tasking turning center with live tooling and a sub-spindle.
With more than 35 years of experience in the machining and fabrication of plastics, Ferriero is proud that 80 percent of PlasTech’s business is from repeat customers. Approximately 50% of his business is devoted to medical equipment.
“We focus on high quality and precision. We don’t waste time trying to be the cheapest machine shop out there. Our prices are usually in the middle of the road compared to our competitors. We are the best at what we do and pride ourselves on delivering quality parts on time.” It appears PlasTech’s focus on quality versus price is working. According to Ferriero, companies that shipped jobs overseas for cheaper rates have started bringing the business back to PlasTech. “We lost jobs to overseas suppliers about five years ago and most of that work has come back,” said Ferriero.
A big part of PlasTech’s success is due to Ferriero’s commitment to stay current with technology by investing in new equipment. As PlasTech has grown, so has his investment in Hurco machine tools and Hurco technology. His latest investment in a Hurco software feature called UltiMotion continues to provide benefits beyond Ferriero’s expectations. As an example, Ferriero cites a part used for head restraints on hospital beds. “When we machined the parts on our RoboDrill, it took 30 minutes per part. On our Hurco with UltiMotion, it takes 20 minutes and the surface finish quality improved significantly,” says Ferrierro.
UltiMotion is able to simultaneously decrease cycle time and increase surface finish quality due to the underlying motion control algorithm Hurco developed that uses software-based motion instead of conventional hardware-based motion. UltiMotion software has rapid cornering capabilities that allow the spindle to travel through corners at high speed with negligible deviation without overshooting or stopping. Therefore, cycle time is significantly reduced when machining parts with complex geometries and/or repetitive tasks, such as drilling and tapping. Customers with UltiMotion also see improvement in surface finish because UltiMotion minimizes vibration, which results in smoother motion overall.
Flexible Control that Supports NC and Conversational
While PlasTech finds the conversational programming of the integrated Hurco control extremely useful to quickly make a fixture, Ferriero says he uses the NC side of the control for all of his jobs. Keeping his CAM system current is another technology investment that Ferriero continually makes to keep his company up to speed. PlasTech uses Mastercam X5 Cad /Cam software with Mill Level 3 and solids, Mastercam Lathe, verification software, Solidworks, and E2 Shop Systems for shop control.
The Power of Five
Like many prudent job shop owners, Ferriero’s latest machining center investment was a Hurco VM10U 5-axis machining center instead of a traditional 3-axis machine. The VM10U is part of the integrated trunnion style 5-axis machines from Hurco. With X/Y/Z travels of 21x16x19 and a 20-station ATC, the VM10U is one of the highest value 5-axis machines on the market.
Ferriero bought the VM10U to cut down on setups and has realized numerous productivity benefits. "The Hurco VM10U has exceeded our expectations. It has cut down on cost, time, labor and material," said Ferriero.
He cited a specific example for an article that appeared in Manufacturing News. The job entailed the manufacture of plastic components for prototype parts for de-icing the C-130 aircraft. "Without the VM10U 5-axis machine this would have been nearly impossible to get done on time for our customer," said Ferriero. "After offline programming, the setup time on the machine was done in a few hours. The part surface quality and time comparison was much better than expected. It would have been a minimum of 2 days just to make fixtures to machine these parts on a 3-axis machine."
Beyond the technology, beyond the equipment, Ferriero says he continues to invest in Hurco machining centers because of the high quality service he gets from Hurco and Hurco’s distributor, Brooks Associates. Says Ferriero, “The service we get from Hurco and Brooks is second to none. They listen and they are responsive. They understand that your machines are your business.”
Click this link to read the article about PlasTech that appeared in Manufacturing News.
S-3 Industries in Ontario, Canada, produces a wide variety of products using multiple materials, such as aluminum, nickel-based alloys, castings, stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, titanium, exotic metals, and plastics. Customers include aerospace, military/defense, satellite and communications, and enery and resource companies.
S-3 purchased a VM10i due to the power of the integrated Hurco control. S-3 Operations Manager Vince Ferri says, "You can do many production pieces on the VM10i with ease, but it's also great for secondary operations...It is fast to set up, and incredibly user-friendly."
To read the entire article, which appeared in Metalworking Purchasing & Production, click here.
“Our parts became more complex and the need for faster turnaround times increased, so we decided to bring the work inside. We needed a compact, easy-to-use, and yet powerful machining center. Hurco’s VM1 filled the bill completely.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
Brett Mitchell and Darren Withers founded their new company, RP Tooling, as recently as June 2005. Yet by September 2010, turnover had grown to the point where they were able to move out of a rented industrial unit in Halesowen and purchase a freehold property nearby. The two partners, who now employ 20 additional staff, put their success down to following the market and targetting industry sectors that are buoyant at any given time. For example, three years ago a majority of work was for the aerospace industry whereas presently, moulds for automotive customers account for half of throughput.
During 2011, 4,000 such seals will be produced in the press shop at Newtownards, which has 17 power presses rated from 35 to 500 tonnes force for subcontract production runs of progression and deep drawn components.
There are a number of purpose-built 5-axis / 5-sided machining centre designs on the market, including types with a rotary table and either a trunnion support or a swivelling B-axis head to provide the fifth CNC axis. A number of companies including Hurco supply such machines, but neither configuration suited Brunswick Tooling, Brighouse, a manufacturer of reamers and special cutting tools, both solid carbide and indexable-insert.
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.
Cheltenham subcontractor, Pharma Tooling, (www.pharmatooling.co.uk) which until the middle of 2007 could prismatically machine parts up to 750 mm long in one clamping, has more than doubled its maximum component size capacity with the purchase of a new Hurco VMX64 vertical machining centre. It was supplied with a rotary turntable and high-pressure coolant delivery through the BT40 spindle.
Since its formation in 2005, DW Engineering has expanded its Hamilton, South Lanarkshire contract machining business at an impressive rate. Its success is largely down to an ability and willingness to undertake anything from prototype work to large batch production for many different industries, and to offer machining expertise in a wide range of materials.
Seven vertical machining centres from the same supplier, HURCO Europe, have been installed during the past 10 years in the Witney, Oxfordshire works of Acrona Engineering, including most recently a 5-axis VM10U with WinMax control purchased at the beginning of 2010.
“I had to upgrade to CNC to remain competitive but I wanted a machine that would be easy to learn and easy to run. Hurco’s VM mills fit my needs perfectly.”
The people at NuCon Corporation are experts when it comes to impellers. More specifically, they are experts in the manufacturing of radial and axial compressors, pumps and turbines, shrouded impellers, expanders, diffusers, and jet engine cases. They’re also experts in 5-axis machining processes used to manufacture those impellers and the aforementioned parts.
Since 1973, NuCon Corporation has used their proprietary Impeller Machining System to machine thousands of configurations as small as 5 mm in diameter up to 73 inches in diameter. The majority of their products are used for marine propulsion and pumps, industrial compressors, and power generation, but they also machine parts for aircraft and rocket engines. NuCon primarily machines stainless steel, but they have experience machining a variety of materials including aluminum, titanium, exotics, and plastics. They can do any blade configuration a customer needs including straight line element, arbitrary blade shape, blisk, an open or shrouded impeller, and an open or closed turbine. Different blade shapes within a single stator/rotor can be accommodated.
NuCon primarily relies on 15 vintage Sundstrand 5-axis machining centers at their 35,000-square-foot facility in Livonia, Michigan to manufacture these complex blade configurations for customers around the world. In fact, there are only a handful of companies capable of serving this niche market. The NuCon crew has upgraded, retrofitted, and refurbished the massive Sundstrand machining centers so they can handle large parts that vary in complexity and weight, with some blanks weighing as much as 11 tons.
Co-owner David Bernhardt says he started shopping for a smaller 5-axis machining center because it didn’t make sense to tie up a large Sundstrand for smaller parts that were up to 22 inches in diameter. While he considered other brands of 5-axis machines, Bernhardt says a demonstration at Hurco’s technology center in Indianapolis sealed the deal and NuCon purchased two VMX42SR machines. “The VMX42SR’s table had the capacity to handle the weight of stainless steel, which is important because that’s the material we use the most,” explains Bernhardt. The VMX42SR’s C-Axis table with a 24-inch diameter can handle up to 1,100 lbs and the machining center is designed with a B-axis swivel head and C-axis rotary table that lets the tool access hard to reach areas faster. The tilting head design is perfect for the swept surfaces and complex contours NuCon routinely machines. Other advantages of the Hurco VMX42SR include 600-block look ahead, up to 600 ipm programmable feed rate, and processing speed up to 2,277 bps.
Hurco was especially honored that NuCon chose Hurco for its 5-axis machining needs of smaller parts considering the collective expertise of the owners and the exacting standards they demand. NuCon owners David Bernhardt and David Stormont know machine tools inside and out: literally. They were machine tool designers in the 60s at the Buhr Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a company well known for developing machine tools designed specifically for the automotive industry. Because of the collective expertise of Bernhardt and Stormont, NuCon has successfully developed their proprietary Impellar Manufacturing Software, designed the spindle head for their rotary head machines, and created their own PC-based controllers. They have achieved accreditation for numerous quality programs and implemented verification and inspection programs throughout their operation.
Bernhardt says he is enamored with the motion control on the Hurco and both VMX42SRs have performed perfectly. Beyond the machine, Bernhardt says the phenomenal service network Hurco has established is probably the best he’s seen in his career. “It’s really something you should promote. The knowledge and customer support is outstanding. I even sold a machine to a fellow down the road. He asked me about our Hurcos and I told him about the phenomenal service network you have and the outstanding performance of our machines. This is still an industry that relies on word-of-mouth, which means a company’s reputation for how they treat customers after they have bought the machine is important,” explains Bernhardt.
While Hurco machine tools are often known for their intuitive conversational programming, NuCon uses the NC side of the control exclusively. The integrated Hurco control powered by WinMax includes both conversational and NC programming methods with ISNC and NC Productivity Packages available for enhanced performance. With an enhanced NC interpreter, the recently released WinMax version 8 (WinMax8) is compatible with more CAD/CAM programs than ever. Other additions to the NC side of the control include Tool Review, Transform Plane, Rotary Tangential Velocity Control, Automatic Safe Repositioning, Recovery Restart, and Cylindrical Wrap.
“It really says a lot for us to go to another machine with an alien control when all of the Sundstrands and turning systems we have use the control system we developed. The integration has been seamless and all of the operators picked up the Hurco control quickly,” says Bernhardt.
NuCon also invests in other technology to enhance efficiency, minimize waste, and maintain outstanding quality. Bernhardt says software packages from OpenMind and Predator are useful to his operation because they analyze part programs to achieve maximum machining efficiency.
Bernhardt attributes his company’s success to great customers, great employees, and the drive to continually find ways to increase efficiency while maintaining the highest quality. “The core of our manufacturing philosophy at NuCon has always been to satisfy our customers. The job isn’t finished until the customer requirements are met. We believe in continual process improvement. You always need to look for ways to work smarter even while you’re working harder,” says Bernhardt.
For NuCon, purchasing the Hurco VMX42SRs helped the company work smarter for smaller 5-axis parts.
NuCon34100 Industrial RoadLivonia, MI 48150734.525.0770www.nuconcorp.comHurco Companies, Inc.One Technology WayIndianapolis, IN 46268800.634.2416www.hurco.com
Because of Hurco’s track record of developing technology that increases productivity and for manufacturing rigid machines that last, EMM Precision purchased a Hurco 5-axis VM10U. Keith Dalpe, vice president, says the machine was purchased specifically for a new contract that EMM Precision won for a military part. Regarding the VM10U 5-axis machining center, Keith says, “Everybody loves it. It’s just unbelievable what this machine does.
“I bought my first Hurco 17 years ago because I wanted to have a lean, fast turnaround, customer-focused business. After recently installing my 13th Hurco, ‘lean’ is a way of life at Gregor Technology.”- John Gregorich, Vice President Hurco helps firm go lean from the beginning John Gregorich founded Gregor Technology in 1985 and built the business by providing fast turn-around of small-lot quantities for his customers. He needed a machine that could be programmed on the shop floor because he didn’t want the overhead or have the time that a CAD/CAM system can require. When he saw a Hurco control demonstration at a local machine tool show years ago, he bought his first Hurco – a 3HP knee mill. He was producing parts within two days and providing the kind of fast turn-around service that has become his operational trademark today. Gregor is now a 30-man, custom contract, job shop serving New England. It specializes in small lot, just–in-time operations for a variety of customers in the specialty auto parts, aerospace and electronics industries. Gregor has continued to grow, even in this recent downturn, by focusing on customer service. “You want it when?” is not a joke at Gregor Technology. By managing materials from suppliers and focusing on shop floor operations with machine operators, Gregor routinely ships orders in two or three days from receipt of the formal order. The payoff is more business from customers who are cutting back on the number of their suppliers to increase cash flow. This is critical to a small firm’s ability to grow. The latest Hurco addition is the VM1 machining center. Formally introduced at IMTS 2002, the VM1 is specifically designed for shops looking for the efficiencies of a machining center with excellent operating specifications packaged to occupy a minimum of floor space. “The VM1 is a real winner,” said John. “It is perfect for many of the small parts that Gregor Technology works with every day. When coupled with Hurco’s new MAX® conversational control with a color LCD display, all of our machinists want a chance to run the VM1.”The Hurco Lean Manufacturing Solution John has a 20,000 sq. ft. facility, 13 Hurco machines and a growing list of loyal customers. The Hurco machines that John uses have allowed him to operate with low overhead and direct processing of jobs on the shop floor. “Lean manufacturing”, the latest trend in manufacturing, is old hat at Gregor Technology. The Hurco integrated control, software and machine system make programming, editing, and set-up fast and efficient, keeping costs down and cash flow up — two very powerful factors for success in today’s fiercely competitive environment. While several local shops have failed in the recent downturn, Gregor is expanding. Training operators on Hurco machines is fast and easy, so John can take advantage of opportunities as they arise. That keeps customers happy and coming back for Gregor’s special brand of service. Gregor is growing and successful because John organized his business from the start to be a lean, efficient producer of small-lot machined parts. Hurco machines are the perfect solution for this concept.
"Having the large-capacity DCX allows us the opportunity to pitch for a lot of new business up to 3.2 meters by 2.1 meters that we could not have previously undertaken."-Steve Holmes, Director, TGM, Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom
TGM, an aerospace subcontractor in Preston, England, doubled its Y-axis capacity on the shop floor when the company invested in the Hurco DCX32 machining center with a work envelope of 3.2 meters (126 inches) by 2.1 meters (82.7 inches) by 920 millimeters (36.2 inches). With the DCX32, TGM can machine larger airframe components or fixture multiple parts for more efficient production.Nearly half of the components that TGM machines are made from titanium, including wing and fuselage parts, such as longerons for BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon. The remainder of throughput is aluminum. TGM also does a lot of Airbus wing work in both materials, such as leading and trailing edges as well as main details for delivery to the OEM’s Broughton factory via Tier 1 suppliers. The latest Boeing 737-600 has a backswept wing tip, which TGM manufactures, that yields significantly improved fuel efficiency because of the superior aerodynamics. Boeing has decided to retrofit similar wing tips to its entire fleet of 767s currently in service. Steve Holmes, a director at TGM who joined shortly after its formation in 1998, says, “We see a bright future for the aerospace sector despite the downturn over the past 18 months. Having the large-capacity [Hurco] DCX allows us the opportunity to pitch for a lot of new business up to 3.2 meters by 2.1 meters that we could not have undertaken previously.” Optimism has translated into significant investment recently at the Preston facility, which has doubled in size to 16,000 sq ft. A new factory unit houses the DCX32, which has a twin-column, bridge-type construction that allows the large Y-axis travel without loss of rigidity. A 60 kW spindle mounted in a vertical ram gives ample cutting power and torque for machining titanium. A 40-station, swing-arm toolchanger keeps the carousel clear of swarf and maximizes the work envelope. Before TGM purchased the DCX32, their largest machine was a Hurco VMX84 vertical machining center, which was installed in October 2009, and has travels of 84 x 34 x 30 inches. A total of 10 Hurco machining centers now constitute a majority of TGM’s machining capacity.Holmes says TGM chose Hurco when they decided to expand into large size machining centers because they have experienced a decade of prompt service and reliable production using smaller Hurco equipment. In particular, Holmes cites the proprietary, integrated Hurco control system that runs the latest WinMax® Windows®-based software. The control has a 40GB hard-drive with 2GB RAM and high-speed contouring capability. Approximately 40% of the programs, even complex 2D jobs, are written quickly and easily on the shop floor at TGM’s Preston facility using the control’s conversational programming. The time savings allows TGM to respond promptly to urgent jobs, particularly AOG (aircraft on ground) requests. The remaining 60% of programs are prepared off-line using MasterCam. Whether the customer provides a digital file or a drawing of an older component, a 3D IGES file or a 2D DXF file can be prepared quickly and downloaded directly to the control on any of the Hurco machines for immediate use.