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  • Mast part Machines on a Hurco

    Out with the old ... (Story by Cutting Tool Engineering)

    Just because a piece of equipment functions doesn’t mean a shop should keep using it. Mast Motorsports realized that a couple machine tools at its Walled ...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Automotive, Moldmaker, UltiMotion

    Just because a piece of equipment functions doesn’t mean a shop should keep using it. Mast Motorsports realized that a couple machine tools at its Walled Lake, Mich., facility had become technologically obsolete and, therefore, needed to be replaced. The Nacogdoches, Texas-headquartered company manufactures automotive components, such as cylinder heads, intake manifolds and induction systems, for street performance and racing. Mast primarily machines aluminum and plastic.

     

    After researching suitable replacement machines from Hurco North America at a trade show and considering similar offerings from other machine tool builders, Mast purchased two Hurco 5-axis CNC milling machines: a VMX60SRTi and a VMX42SWi. “The best replacement was the configuration Hurco had to offer,” said Cary Chouinard, director of manufacturing at Mast.

     

    According to Indianapolis-based Hurco, the machines are configured to use a swivel head with either an A- or C-style rotary table. The rotary table measures 66"×26" (1,676.4mm × 660.4mm) and enhances versatility because it can provide extra table space for secondary operations or 3-axis work.

     

    Chouinard also appreciates that the milling machines’ controls allow additional work to be performed at the machines. “The whole manual for operating the machine and everything that you want to know is right at the controller,” he said.

     

    In addition, programming the machines isn’t a challenge. “Whether you’re using G and M codes or manually programming them, it’s very simple,” Chouinard said.

     

    Compared to Mast’s outdated equipment, the Hurco machines are almost twice as fast, according to Chouinard. He added that Mast has been able to decrease machining time while reducing the step-over and producing more consistent and higher-quality parts. “The cost savings have been huge,” Chouinard said.

     

    Although the quickness of the machines enables aggressive cutting, Chouinard noted the machines, which have a peak spindle motor horsepower of 48 hp (36.5kW) at 2,900 rpm, are quiet enough so that he can hear what is happening throughout the 7,500-sq.-ft. shop.

     

    “It’s more advantageous for us to run with one line of machines,” Chouinard said, “so we’re trying to go with all Hurco equipment here.”

     

    Read the full story from Cutting Tool Engineering here


    Watch The Video From IMTS 2016

  • Nic and Dean from JFR

    The creation of the Force American Made (FAM) machine shop at John Force Racing (JFR) is a story about turning tragedy into triumph.

    At 33, Eric Medlen was a rising star in the NHRA drag racing circuit, winner of six tour events, eight times a number one qualifier, he was a media favori...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Automotive, Lathe, Mill Turn, Motorsports, UltiMotion

    At 33, Eric Medlen was a rising star in the NHRA drag racing circuit, winner of six tour events, eight times a number one qualifier, he was a media favorite for his running commentary, and a fan favorite for both his accessibility and his enthusiasm. Medlen’s path to drag racing wasn’t typical. As a high school rodeo champion and calf roping protégé to two-time PRCA World Champion Jerold Camarillo, he was planning to join Camarillo’s team when his dad, John Medlen, called with the job he had always dreamed of: working alongside him at John Force Racing.


    After eight years as a JFR crew member, Eric got the chance of a lifetime: team owner John Force chose Eric to replace JFR driver Tony Pedregon, who left JFR to form a new team with his brother at the end of the 2003 season. According to JFR, Eric said at the time, “My dad was my hero growing up and I always dreamed that we’d wind up racing together, but I never dreamed that I’d be driving and he’d be the crew chief on the same car, especially at a place like John Force Racing.”


     

    FAM manufactures tens of thousands of parts per year
    Eric Medlen | 1973 - 2007
    After just six seasons, Eric Medlen’s life was cut short in March of 2007 when he died from injuries sustained during a testing accident in Florida. The initial outpouring of grief after Eric’s death was quickly followed by a universal show of support that resulted in the creation of The Eric Medlen Project, the thrust of which was the design of a safer race car and the creation of a safer environment in which to compete.

     


    John Force
    threw his complete support behind the project by opening a state-of-the-art machine shop at the team’s newly built 180,000-square-foot facility in Brownsburg, Indiana. Eric’s father, John Medlen, became project manager of the Eric Medlen Project and worked with Ford Motor Company, the NHRA, SFI, chassis builder Murf McKinney and a host of others in an unprecedented display of cooperation.


    Ironically, John Force was the first driver to benefit from the initial changes that were made to the chassis as part of the Eric Medlen Project.  Although Force broke bones in his hands and feet when he crashed at Ennis, Texas, in September of 2007, he had no serious head or neck injuries.


    The improvements that made Force’s survival possible included a wider roll cage, extra padding within it, the switch from five-point to seven-point harnesses and a head-and-neck restraint system that limits side-to-side movement as well as front-to back.


    Fast forward to 2016, and the Force American Made employs 24 out of JFR’s approximately 100 employees.  The 7 machine shop employees operate the team’s 17 CNC machines, with the latest additions to the fleet being six Hurco CNC machines: a 3-axis VMX30i , a 5-axis VMX42SRTi, a 3-axis VMX6030i, TMX8MYSi mill turn slant-bed lathe, and two TMM8i slant-bed lathes with live tooling.


     

    FAM manufactures tens of thousands of parts per year
    Manifold Fuel Block Machined on Hurco VMX42SRTi
    FAM manufactures tens of thousands of parts per year that range from small consumable parts to super chargers, engine blocks and cylinder heads. Approximately 90% are 7075 and 7050 aluminum and the other 10% are Titanium Grade 9 (6AL4V).


    Dean "Guido" Antonelli, General Manager of Force American Made, said, 

    “When we evaluate machines to replace existing equipment, I am always looking to improve tolerances and spindle speed as well as expand the shop’s capabilities and find ways to increase efficiency. Our tolerances are in the ten-thousandths, which means accuracy and repeatability are critical when it comes to the CNC machines we select.”

     

    Antonelli said the Hurco CNC machines have outperformed his expectations. Antonelli and Nic Barnes, the Machine Shop Supervisor, said the benefits they appreciate the most from the new Hurco CNC machines are the surface finish quality, fast rapids, rigidity, accuracy, the robust technical specifications of the Hurco control, the swing-arm ATC design and tool capacity, and the productivity gains from adopting 5-sided machining for parts they used to manufacture on 3-axis machines.

     

    “We’re always looking to improve the quality and strength as well as the fit and the finish of the parts we make. With the Hurcos, the finish is like jewelry. I don’t even have to polish the parts,” said Barnes.

     

    The impressive surface finish quality is due to the motion control system Hurco invented. Named UltiMotion, the patented motion control system is software driven and consists of millions of algorithms working in the background to provide optimized look-ahead.


    Available on all Hurco 3-axis and 5-axis mills, the user doesn’t have to do anything to make UltiMotion work. While the technology is complex, there is no setup or configuration required. In addition to delivering superb surface finishes, UltiMotion also reduces cycle time by up to 35%, and sometimes more, because it minimizes machine jerk and evaluates the part geometry to calculate the optimal lookahead (up to 10,000 blocks).


    The team uses MasterCAM to create the majority of its part programs, which Barnes and Antonelli said is another advantage of selecting Hurco CNC machines. “We’ve always heard about the Hurco control being really good at conversational programming, but what we’ve found is that it’s true when they say it is the most flexible control in the industry. It processes G-code better than any of the machines we’ve had in the past,” said Antonelli. The technical specifications of the Hurco control that eliminate the hassle the FAM shop experienced in the past with other controls include a 2.7GHz Dual Core Processor, 4GB RAM Memory, and a 128GB Solid State Hard Drive, and up to 4,000 bps processing speed.

     

    “It’s a big deal,” Barnes said of the memory and speed with which the Hurco control loads part programs. “We have a flywheel part with two operations that we separated into two part programs because it would take 52 minutes just to load one operation before we got the Hurco. But now, with the Hurco control, it takes 10 seconds.”
    “And the memory is so great we can have multiple programs loaded instead of loading them one at a time,” said Barnes. The graphics display, called Advanced Verification Graphics, is another winning feature of the Hurco control, according to Barnes. “It just gives me peace of mind to know I can see the detail of what the tool is doing and know there aren’t any crashes. The display is really clear and offers different views on the DRO.”

     

    We have a flywheel part with two operations that we separated into two part programs because it would take 52 minutes just to load one operation before we got the Hurco. But now, with the Hurco control, it takes 10 seconds.
    Clutch Flywheel Pressure Plate Machined on Hurco VMX6030i

     

    However, the biggest advantage the team has seen in terms of productivity has been the decision to embrace 5-sided machining on 5-axis machines, a trend that is becoming the norm in shops of all sizes across the nation.

    “On our fuel distribution blocks, we went from six operations to two. With six ops, the part took a total of six hours and on the 5-axis machine it takes four hours,” said Barnes.

     

    Not only does the adoption of 5-sided save setup time since the machinist doesn’t need to manually flip parts and then fixture them again for each operation, machining time is decreased.

     

    “On the main cap, we went from 22.5 minutes of machine time on the 3-axis machine to just 16 minutes,”
    said Barnes.

     
    As the JFR manufacturing team looks to the future, they continue to honor the life of not only Eric Medlen but all drag racers who have lost their lives and challenge them to continuously evaluate ways to improve safety on the race track. Hurco is proud to be a part of such an important mission and a proud sponsor of John Force Racing.

    Click to watch the Video: Inside John Force Racing Machine Shop

    John Force Racing Machine Shop Video
    ​​
  • RP Tooling interior picture

    RP Tooling Reduces Cycle Time with Hurco

    ​An article in Engieering Capacity features Hurco customer RP Tooling, a company focused on toolmaking with 50% of their parts being used for vehicles suc...Read moreTags: Automotive, 3-Axis Mill, 5-Axis, UltiMotion, Moldmaker

    ​An article in Engieering Capacity features Hurco customer RP Tooling, a company focused on toolmaking with 50% of their parts being used for vehicles such as the Range Rover Sport, Audi R8 Etron, F-Type Jaguar and the Ford Ranger. The other half of RP Toolings molds could be components anything from medical equipment to lawn mowers to boilers. 


    RP Tooling's owner says that a new feature in the Hurco software on the latest machines, called Ultimotion, reduces cycle times by up to 30 per cent. UltiMotion was invented by Hurco and includes software-based look-ahead, which uses an advanced algorithm within WinMax to evaluate the component geometry and motion profile of the cutting cycle to optimise and smooth the tool paths. 


    The company finds UltiMotion especially beneficial when profiling complex features, reducing manufacturing costs and allowing more competitive prices to be quoted. So great are the advantages that all of RP Tooling’s Hurco controls will be updated this year with the new software.


    RP Tooling currently has 11 Hurco 3-axis machining centers and one Hurco 5-axis machining center.


    Read the full article.​

    Image copyright © Mercator Media 2015

  • /en-us/why-hurco/success-stories/blog/Lists/Photos/testimonials/_t/Injection%20Mold%20MMT%20022013_jpg.jpg

    Injection Mold - Hurco Eases Moldmaker's Transition to 5-Axis

    ​During the last 30 years, Injection Mold, Inc. (North Vernon, Indiana) has grown from a small garage shop dedicated to producing lens molds for the autom...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Moldmaker, Conversational, Automotive, Medical


    During the last 30 years, Injection Mold, Inc. (North Vernon, Indiana) has grown from a small garage shop dedicated to producing lens molds for the automotive industry to a full-service shop that that specializes in Rapid Prototyping (RP) molds for multiple industries, such as medical, electronics, safety, baby products, appliance, and plumbing. A desire to reduce set-up times and increase accuracy led the company to upgrade from three-axis to five-axis machines.

    According to General Manager Jason Vawter, Injection Mold has a stellar reputation when it comes to speed. “Customers call us immediately when they need something quick, without even considering their other suppliers, because we are the quickest," he says.

    This need for speed led Injection Mold to consider upgrading from three-axis to five-axis technology. “A lot of our RP work involves multiple setups on three-axis machines, and with the short deliveries we do, we needed to find a way to speed up our times,” Vawter explains. “Using five-axis technology would allow us to eliminate a lot of set-ups.”

    Vawter looked at a number of different machines, but all roads led to Hurco. “One of the reasons we went with Hurco is that they are right down the road from us,” he says. “We also owned Hurcos in the past and have been very happy with them. We found that the VMX30U was exactly what we were looking for.”
     
    Hurco decided to make 5-Axis a priority 10 years ago and has dedicated resources to the development of features that make the transition easy for 3-axis shops. Hurco even started a website devoted to five-axis education (www.FiveAxisMachining.com) that includes a dedicated telephone number and email that goes directly to Hurco Applications Engineers with expertise in 5-axis/5-sided. The VMX30U that Injection Mold purchased is one of 11 Hurco 5-Axis machining centers that are the result of Hurco’s focus on 5-axis.

    While the transition from 3-axis machining to 5-axis can be intimidating, most machinists grasp the concept fairly quickly and continue to realize additional benefits the more they use the machine. “Five-axis was a brand new area for us,” Vawter recalls. “Since we have always had three-axis, we grew accustomed to working in three planes. Then, all of a sudden, there were five.” While he says it took the employees several months to get completely comfortable with the machine, Hurco was always readily available to field questions.

    Multiple Advantages
    Injection Mold bought the machine solely for the purpose of eliminating multiple set-ups, but Vawter notes the more they use the VMX30U, the more they find they can do with it. “For example, we had some slides (multicavity tool with multiple slides per cavity) and they have angled holes through them on 20 degrees,” he elaborates. “There’s a 25-degree angle on the back with tapped holes. To machine these in the past, we would have one set-up for each operation on a 3-axis mill and it would have taken probably five set-ups with an hour to an hour-and-a-half on each block. When we do it on the VMX30U, it is one set-up and 20 minutes in each piece.”


    Another payoff is higher accuracy. “Each time you have to take the piece out of the machine to put in another setup,  you take a chance of everything not blending out,” he explains. “Now we just pick it up one time and we will cut from the top and the machine will rotate and cut the piece from the side—so accuracy is better. We maintain .005 micron accuracy on our work.”
    Vawter is very pleased with the VMX30U. “Once we made the leap, we continue to find more benefits—things we didn’t even consider are now possible. We have had it a little over a year and we feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface of what we can utilize it for. We will definitely consider another five-axis purchase by year’s end.”

    Injection Mold, Inc. / (812) 346-7002
    inject@tls.net / injectiomoldinc.com

     

    Click this link to read the article about Injection Mold as it appeared in MoldMaking Technology Magazine



  • /en-us/why-hurco/success-stories/blog/Lists/Photos/VM1_WinMax.jpg

    BFO Motorcycles - Bike Designer Follows His Dream into Manufacture

      Hurco machining centre turns as well as mills at start-up motor cycle factory.  Ever since the early 90s, after graduating with a first class honours ...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, Automotive

     

    Hurco machining centre turns as well as mills at start-up motor cycle factory.

     
    Ever since the early 90s, after graduating with a first class honours degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Abertay, Dundee, Steve Atkins has wanted to produce his own motorcycle.  While pursuing a successful career as a car designer at such prestigious companies as Peugeot, Jaguar and Aston Martin, he spent his spare time designing his own bike and four years ago built a first prototype.


    Two more followed, the last in October 2006, just in time to launch the concept at The International Motorcycle & Scooter Show at the NEC.  He took his first order, the customer paying a deposit there and then.  Together with a small amount of Government funding, it convinced Steve to start his own company – BFO Motorcycles – and press ahead with series production.
     
    Based on the Honda Fireblade, BFO manufactures a kit costing around £6,500 plus VAT and, within a month, converts the donor bike into a bespoke motorcycle called the ‘switch:BLADE’.  Only the Fireblade’s wheels, suspension, brakes, wiring and engine are retained; the rest is replaced in the makeover.  The plan is to build 100 kits before moving on to a second donor bike, the Suzuki Hayabusa, and repeating the exercise in collaboration with international motorcycle stylist, John Keogh.  This second bike is already attracting a great deal of interest following release of the initial artist’s impression.
     
    To mill the components, Steve bought in mid 2007 a Hurco VM1 machining centre, listing at £27,900, which with its 660 x 356 x 457 mm working volume he says is the ideal size for producing motorcycle parts.  As he is under financial constraints while building up the business, he is using a 3-jaw chuck and circular interpolation on the machine to produce most of the turned parts for the bike as well, postponing investment in a lathe.

    To buy even one machine tool in addition to renting an industrial unit in Coventry and incurring sundry other expenses, all based on a single bike design, is a big step for an individual.  Steve chose the Hurco machining centre because of its low price and ease of use.  He is a designer, not a machinist, and previously had hardly operated a manual machine tool, let alone one that is computer controlled.
     
    Manual machines would have been too labour intensive for series production, making the kits too expensive, added to which there is potential for inaccuracies to creep in due to human error.  Learning conventional CNC programming using G- and M-codes would have been very time-consuming.  All he wanted to do was get accurate bike components off the machine quickly.
     
    Steve commented, “I knew of the conversational programming capabilities of Hurco control systems through local subcontractors that had made prototype parts for me on Hurco machines.  “The way the Max control manipulates geometry is similar to my I-DEAS CAD system, so I am in a familiar environment.  The touch screen control makes it very easy to build up a cutting cycle based on the geometry of the part and the tooling I have available.  You simply redraw the part on the Max screen, input feeds and speeds and the program writes itself.”
     
    For machining more complicated 3D parts such as patterns for producing areas of the carbon fibre bodywork and the seat, which was styled by John Keogh, Steve has installed a OneCNC CAM package that will allow input of complex, 3D cutter paths directly into the Max control.
    He continued, “Just by machining the patterns for the switch:BLADE in house rather than having to subcontract the work, I have saved one third of the cost of the Hurco.
     
    “All the formed 7020 aluminium tubing for the frame has to be machined so that it fits together first time.  There are fork clamps, mudguard brackets, foot rests, brake calliper mounts, handlebars and a host of other components to be machined from billet, plus most of the traditionally turned parts – I now only have to subcontract the turning of headstocks, which are a little too long for the Hurco.
    “I calculate that there is about £2,000 of machining in each switch:BLADE kit, so together with the saving in pattern machining, the Hurco will have paid for itself after nine bikes.  Everything after that will be for free, except for tooling and running costs.”
     

     

  • /en-us/why-hurco/success-stories/blog/Lists/Photos/RPTooling4.jpg

    RP Tooling - Hurco Machines Facilitate Toolmaker's Success

    ​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...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, NC, Aerospace, Automotive

    ​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.


    Purchase of seven vertical-spindle,3-axis machining centres from Hurco has also played a part in the toolmaker's expansion, allowing high quality products to be delivered on time and within budget. It is noteworthy that three of the Hurco machines as well as a Mitutoyo CMM were installed in summer 2009, right in the middle of the recession, underlining Mr Mitchell's opinion that regular investment in new plant is crucial for business expansion, even in difficult times.

     

    RP Tooling specialises in short-lead-time design and manufacture of aluminium injection moulds for producing plastic prototypes and short batch runs, typically up to 5,000-off. Some smaller steel tools are machined for longer production runs. The firm also makes investment tooling for production of castings, destined mainly for export markets in Europe.
     
    Another facet of its business is low-volume machining of bespoke jigs and fixtures as well as components in anything from resin board through plastics and aluminium to hardened steel, predominantly for Formula 1 teams and luxury car manufacturers.
       
    At the outset, Messrs Mitchell and Withers researched the market for mid-range vertical machining centres (VMCs) that could cope with such a wide variety of work.  Mr Withers commented, "We chose Hurco VMCs because their sturdy construction and build quality stood out from the rest. Compared with some of the machines we looked at, there was a big difference in robustness.

    "The Hurcos have also proved easy to use. Two days' training is provided with each machine, but we have not been on any of the courses. The engineer that commissioned the first machines showed us a little of how to program using the conversational control and we just took it from there."
     
    RP Tooling is not a typical user of Hurco VMCs, however. The powerful, Windows-based Ultimax control running proprietary WinMax shop floor programming software is often the deciding factor at the time a customer purchases a Hurco machine. It had no bearing on the Halesowen toolmaker's choice, though, as staff rarely use the facility. It only comes into play for engraving part numbers around tools and for preparing programs for machining some components and fixtures.
      
    Invariably, mould design and programming are carried out off-line using ZW3D (formerly VX) CAD and NCG CAM software based on an imported solid model of the end product supplied by the customer. A single post processor is needed for downloading machine code to all seven Hurcos via DNC links. As the machines have similar sets of cutters resident in the tool magazines, jobs are freely interchangeable, providing considerable production flexibility. Mr Mitchell added, "Although we do not use Ultimax for programming our tools, we do find the control's 'work offset' feature useful when running machines unattended overnight and at weekends, which we do regularly.
     
    "It means we can maximise productivity by fixturing multiple jobs on each machine table, as appropriate. We may import, say, three programs created on our CAD/CAM system and simply enter two additional G-codes to tell the spindle to redatum automatically after each job has finished."
       
    All CNC plant for prismatic machining at RP Tooling is from Hurco. The machines work alongside a CNC toolroom lathe and various manual mills, drills and lathes and a small sparker. There is also a 130-tonne injection moulding press on site for proving out tools and undertaking low volume runs for customers, and two wax presses for proving out investment tools.
     
    The company's next purchases will be a 5-axis Hurco machining centre to expand component manufacture and speed complex profiling jobs; and a much larger DCX22 with a 1.75-metre Y-axis to tackle larger moulds that the company is currently having to turn away.

     

     

     

  • /en-us/why-hurco/success-stories/blog/Lists/Photos/CrossenEngineering3.jpg

    Crossen Engineering Ltd - Toolmaker Expands into Aerospace Sector

    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 subcontr...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Automotive, Moldmaker, NC, Conversational

    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.

     

    The contract has boosted the proportion of aerospace sector work done by Crossen Engineering to 20 per cent of turnover.  The company received AS9100 quality management accreditation in 2010 and intends to grow the aerospace side of its business further to 75 per cent by 2015.  Another recent aerospace project, for University of Ulster spin-off, LenisAer, Belfast, was to design a press tool for forming a sector for an engine nacelle lip skin from a sheet metal blank, currently aluminium but perhaps also titanium. The concept, to extend the trailing edge, promote laminar flow and eliminate a join, has been proved and production quantities are being considered. A lip skin prototype will be exhibited on Crossen Engineering's stand at the International Paris Air Show 2011 in June.  Pressworking contracts carried out in other industries include making a tool and supplying hood reinforcement parts for lift trucks; and tools used in the production of the Audi A8.
     
    Started in 1978 by Paul Crossen's father, Derek, to service a local need for press tools, the firm moved into the manufacture of steel and aluminium mould tools in the mid 90s. It gradually established an injection mould shop which now has machines from 60 to 500 tonnes clamping force to fulfil subcontract runs in short lead times. Today, the split between press tool and injection mould work is roughly 50:50.
     
    A recent success was winning back a contract previously lost to China, namely tool manufacture and production of plastic moulded parts used in flat-pack kits for polling booths and ballot boxes marketed by Pakflatt in Derry. Another injection mould, machined on a Hurco VMX42, is for producing parts for ABS dummies assembled by a Belfast company, Trucorp, for resuscitation training.
     
    A customer in receipt of both mould and press tools together with the plastic and pressed parts is roof window manufacturer, Keylite, Cookstown. These days, Crossen Engineering is rarely asked to make only the tool.
     
    Derek Crossen bought the company's first Hurco, a BMC40, 25 years ago through local Irish representative, Michael Gannon. "The machine gave 20 years of excellent service, cutting a range of materials including prehardened steels," confirmed Paul Crossen, "and although not currently in use, it is still operational."
     
    The machine's reliability and suitability for toolmaking, with its ability to manufacture one-offs efficiently and move on rapidly to the next job, is behind Crossen Engineering's decision to purchase prismatic metalcutting equipment only from this source. In the last six years, the company has installed four VMX42s, the latest in April 2011, and a VMX64 to increase the size of parts that can be machined in-house. All are 40 taper machines.
       
    The first VMX, with 12,000 rpm spindle, arrived in 2005 to produce aluminium injection moulds for manufacturing rubber mats for cars. Suppliers to Porsche, Mazda, Kia and Mercedes Trucks number among the many users of these moulds.
     
    One of the other VMX42s has a higher speed spindle capable of 15,000 rpm. It was bought to concentrate on machining of aluminium parts for aircraft, such as seat supports and trim, as well as to produce vacuum forming tools.
     
    The VMX64, with its 1,626 x 864 x 762 mm working envelope, was acquired in 2009 for machining bolster plates and other larger components whose production was previously subcontracted. A similar machine will replace the BMC40 at the end of 2011.
     
    Programming efficiency at Crossen Engineering is just as important as machining time, because very often only one part is produced. In this respect, Winmax software in Hurco's latest Ultimax control is proving beneficial.  Although it is possible to use the conversational capability to program relatively complex 3D shapes on the shop floor, this is mainly done in Delcam Powermill and downloaded. Programming of 2D shapes is well within the control's remit, but again, the toolmaker tends to do this in Autocad and send a DXF file to the Ultimax, which is able to read the data directly. The rationale is to eliminate the possibility of human error.
     
    Conversational capability in the control is used to prepare some simpler programs. However, it really comes into its own for conveniently copying and pasting existing macros for pocketing and drilling, for example, into downloaded NC programs. The software also provides flexibility for editing programs quickly on the shop floor, without having to return each time to the CAM system in the office.  Conversationally generated elements of the program can be integrated seamlessly with blocks of G-code in Winmax. Moreover, merging of the two can be completed in background while the previous part is being cut, so valuable production time is not lost.
     
    One operator runs two Hurco machines at Newtownards over a single shift at present, so there is plenty of capacity to ramp up output, if order levels dictate. Nevertheless, Crossen Engineering already benefits from production hours after each manned shift, as one or two machines routinely are left to run unattended overnight and at weekends. Some jobs, such as profiling of the car mat injection moulds, continue largely unattended for 48 hours.

     

     

     

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    Brunswick Tooling Ltd - Benefits of a 5-Axis Machining Centre

    ​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 su...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Mill Turn, Automotive, Aerospace

    ​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.

    Instead, it asked Hurco to supply an alternative 5-axis configuration based on a 3-axis VMX30m machining centre fitted with a 2-axis NC tilting rotary table. Many regard such a solution as inferior to a custom-made 5-axis machine, sometimes referring disparagingly to a lack of rigidity with 'bolt-on attachments'. However, for producing Brunswick Tooling's products, which are essentially rotational components, the arrangement has proved to be optimal.

    The rigidity issue was tackled at the outset by selection of a Kitagawa TT182 hydraulic, 2-axis table with -35 / +110 tilt angle and a 360-degree table rotation. According to Brunswick Tooling's managing director, Paul Briggs, the attachment is so robust that machining performance is just as good as that of purpose-built, 5-axis machines.
     
    Indexing accuracies of 20 and 60 seconds of arc respectively for table rotation and tilt, with 4 seconds of arc repeatability, ensure top precision metalcutting when combined with Hurco's ± 0.005 mm linear positioning accuracy and ± 0.0025 mm repeatability.  The real advantage of the set-up is that Brunswick Tooling is able to clamp the rotary table in its vertical position and fit a tailstock to the left hand side of the machine bed. In this way, the tools it manufactures can be positioned between centres and clamped securely for prismatic machining operations to be carried out, such as milling of indexable insert pockets.
     
    The first Hurco machine installed, in March 2010, has been operated in this mode for a large part of the time. However, for certain jobs the tailstock is removed and the Kitagawa table is inclined upwards to position the component at a compound angle for 3-axis machining of complex features on some tooling products. Both rotary axes are currently used in this way, ie indexed and clamped, but they could be interpolated with the linear axes in future, if desired, as the Hurco Max CNC system is able to control full 5-axis cycles.
      
    It was the flexibility of being able to use the machine either in turn-mill mode or as a 5-sided or 5-axis machining centre that convinced Mr Briggs to choose the Hurco / Kitagawa option. The merits of the decision were underlined by the purchase of a second, identically equipped VMX30m one year after the first. Even the tools in the magazines are identical. Programs are stored on the factory server, allowing any job to be downloaded to, and produced on, either Hurco machine, with certainty that the most up-to-date cutting cycle is being used.
     
    Mr Briggs said that there is a particular functionality within Hurco's WinMax conversational programming software that lends itself well to 5-sided machining applications, during which the part is tilted upwards at an angle. It is called 'transform plane' and is used in a rotary program to re-establish part zero to any plane for non-rotary 3-axis milling or drilling. This facilitates machining of repeating features on several sides of a component, as the tool automatically moves so that it is always perpendicular to the transformed plane.
     
    "Essentially, whatever angle the part is at in one or two rotary planes, the Hurco software always knows where the datum is, which has allowed us to increase productivity on complex, high added value products," confirmed Mr Briggs.
    His lead machine tool programmer, Andrew Bell, also commented on the software: "With WinMax, it is easy to program a part without any need for an expensive 5-axis CAM system.
       
    "We a take the DXF file from the 3D model we create in Autodesk Inventor and load it directly into WinMax. The data is then used to generate the cutter paths using conversational routines, quickly and accurately, without the risk of introducing G-code errors.  "The software is years ahead of its time and always has been, even the earlier, non-Windows version, Ultimax."
     
    Mr Bell, who uses WinMax software daily, also likes the way a graphic of the part being programmed is generated concurrently in background. He said it allows any potential mistakes in component geometry to be spotted quickly, this being especially useful when programming a cylindrical part, which is difficult to visualise from a 2D drawing.
     
    Brunswick Tooling manufactures reamers in batches of up to 300-off for world markets, but its special cutting tools are normally produced in ones and twos, for which WinMax software is ideal. Often, the company is asked by firms to design and produce a tool from scratch from a CAD drawing of the end component.
     
    Customers include Ford, JCB, Airbus, AgustaWestland and BAE Systems, from which it recently received the Chairman's Silver Award for reducing lead-time for a Joint Strike Fighter titanium machining operation from three days to five minutes.
       
    Mr Briggs concluded, "The Hurco machines are good value for money and have a large working area for the factory space they take up.  "Their accuracy is fantastic – we easily hold 50 microns on indexable insert pocket dimensions and position, despite sometimes machining a long component held at one end.  "We still operate a number of universal, 4-axis toolroom machines, which have a manually tilting table and require longhand G-code programming. They will continue to have their place for manufacturing reamers and some repeat special tools.
     
    "But for particularly complex tooling designs, which are becoming more and more frequent, the Hurco / Kitagawa configuration is the future for our business and the avoidance of expenditure on CAM software, and an operator to use it, is an added bonus."

     

     

     

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    Cube Precision Engineering - Manufacture of Automotive and Aerospace Components

    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 ...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Dual Column, Automotive, Conversational, NC

    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.

     

    The latest investment follows recent strong business growth, particularly in the manufacture of automotive press tools for producing interior and body components for such famous marques as Land Rover, Jaguar, BMW and Honda. Turnover at the 35-employee firm is expected to increase this year by more than 12 per cent compared with 2011 to £3.5 million.
     
    One recent high-profile job involved completing work on tools for pressing the door outer panels that go into the new, all-aluminium Range Rover (L405), launched at the Paris Motor Show on 27th September 2012. Other press tools machined on the 3-axis DCX include those for producing the wheel arches for the Jaguar F-Type (X152), a new, aluminium-chassis, two-seater sports car due to enter production in 2013.
     
    Mould tools, progression dies and transfer tooling are also produced on a total of 11 CNC machines running 24 hours a day, 5 days a week at Cube's Rowley Regis factory. The larger machines are fitted with multi-axis heads to enable   3+2 axis CNC machining of complex components.
     
    Outside the automotive industry, the Hurco DCX regularly produces aerospace components, including for jet engine research, and machines parts for armoured personnel carriers and tanks. Materials processed range from aluminium through cast iron, Armox, aerospace grade steels and Inconel to D2 and P20 tool steels. Almost all work is for primes and tier 1 manufacturing companies.
     
    Cube's service encompasses proving the tooling it produces on presses ranging up to 4.5 metres / 1,000 tons-force. For the aerospace sector, the company designs and manufactures tooling used in die quench and super plastic forming processes as well as a range of composite materials.
     
    Neil Clifton, one of three director-owners of Cube, commented, "We are one of very few companies in the UK that has invested in the space, craneage and equipment to machine parts to five metres in X and weighing up to 35 tonnes.
     
    "Finish machining of large-size parts was causing a bottleneck, so we opted for a Hurco DCX, as it was economically priced for a machine with over six cubic metres of working volume.  "Despite its size, the machine easily achieves general tolerances of 0.03 mm and regularly goes down to 0.02 mm, with excellent surface finish.  "We also like the fact that the machine comes with a 40-position magazine and automatic toolchanger for BT50 cutters as standard. Such equipment normally costs extra on a machining centre of that size."
     
     
    Another benefit of the machine to Cube is that its operators, already familiar with using the twin-screen WinMax / Ultimax control on the other four Hurcos on site, could move seamlessly onto the identical CNC system controlling the DCX32. WinMax has powerful, conversational shop floor programming capability and a second screen on which a graphic of the part is generated as the cycles are built up.
     
    Mr Clifton says that, in practice, most 3D cycles are prepared off-line from customers' models, imported into Delcam Powershape, via IGES if necessary, and processed using Powermill CAM software.
     
    Changes to a job can require urgent attention, such as alterations to a tool when automotive body parts are not fitting together properly during a vehicle's initial build phase. So prompt programming offline from a revised solid model is essential while the tool is being transported back to Cube.

     

    It is usual for simpler 2D elements of a program to be programmed at the control by the machine operator, however. One of the benefits of WinMax is that such cycles can be easily merged with the 3D cutter paths prepared externally. Previously, such an approach would have resulted in two separate cutting cycles.

     

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    BAW Precision Engineering Ltd - Hurco Helps BAW Hit Niche Markets

    ​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 Swanse...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Custom Machinery, Medical, Aerospace, Automotive, Energy Sector, Conversational

    ​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.

     
    The re-emergence of one of Wales leading subcontractors commenced less than a year ago with the introduction of new management, employee training and a lean manufacturing philosophy. These building blocks have been supported with new sales and marketing structure that can now promote the new capabilities provided by the subcontractor’s latest asset, a new 5-axis machining centre from Hurco.
     
    Already boasting marquee customers such as Biomet, The Royal Mint, Honda, Continental Teves, Walkers Foods, Borg Warner and Bosch to name a few, the diverse customer base sees BAW work in the medical, aerospace, automotive, power generation and hydraulic sectors among others. This extensive subcontract expertise is supplemented by an internal department that boasts one of the UK’s few specialist concept to component automation machinery builders. 
       
    With both departments increasingly winning new business, a new machining centre was a necessity. As BAW Precision’s Operations Manager, Mr Andrew Hoseasons comments: “The new ownership and internal developments at BAW has delivered an influx of new business and despite already having 3+2 axis set-ups on our existing machines, we acknowledged that we needed full simultaneous 5-axis capability to drive the company forward. We have identified a need in the marketplace and the new Hurco will be our first step to filling this gap in the market.”
     
    When Pontardawe based BAW entered the market for a new 5-axis CNC machining centre, the fact that the company already has nine Hurco machining centres purchased over a period of 20 years, influenced the decision. As Mr Hoseasons continues: “Despite having an excellent working relationship with Hurco, we still investigated the marketplace to review and consider alternative suppliers. However, we quickly found that the Hurco VMX30U was the most suitable machine for the type of parts we produce. Additionally, our experience informed us that Hurco machines offer exceptional reliability and user friendliness that is matched by excellent performance and productivity levels.”
      
    Emphasising such points, Mr Richard Gunn, Group Engineering Development Manager of RG Tooling, BAW’s development arm, is keen to highlight the immediate impact of the Hurco VMX30U with its integrated Trunnion table. “At present we are machining toolholders for sister company Eurogrind, a manufacturer of standard and bespoke milling and turning toolholders. The simultaneous 5-axis machining has already slashed production times. Previously, our square shank toolholders underwent three individual set-ups that took 10 minutes each. Added to the set-up times were three machining cycles of 15 minutes each, resulting in a complete part time of 75minutes per toolholder. Now, the new VMX30U only requires one ten minute set-up and one 15 minute machining cycle.”
     
    As one of the first jobs on the new Hurco, BAW are delighted with a time saving of 50 minutes. The company initially expected the VMX30U to deliver productivity gains of 25%; however this one job has delivered a saving that has surpassed 60%. This is credit to the reduced set-ups, efficient 5-axis tool paths and higher speed and feed rate capabilities. To put the saving in perspective, BAW machines the toolholders in batches from 10 to 30 with an annual production exceeding 500 units.
     
    Whilst the production times are being cut, Mr Gunn is keen to emphasise the benefit of the new Ultimax control system on the new acquisition, stating: “We have always found the Hurco control system easy to use, but the latest version takes user friendliness a step further. Each function box offers a foot note prompt that tells the operator exactly what to do, making errors difficult to make. From a productivity standpoint, we specified the twin-screen control. This enables us to machine a part with the existing program running on one screen whilst the operator can simultaneously program the next part on the second screen. As the majority of jobs passing through the machine will be small batches of 1 to 10-offs, this will drastically reduce programming times and improve operator productivity, especially as 90% of jobs are programmed on the shop floor.”
      
    “Other features on the Hurco Ultimax control that already benefit us, is the ‘surface finish feature’ that improves cycle times by automatically increasing or reducing speeds and feeds according to the cycle. Additionally, the new control has a transfer plane command that takes the trigonometry calculations out of any programming. It also enables us to merge NC code with intuitive 5-sided conversational programming, further simplifying and speeding up the programming process,” continues Mr Gunn. 
     
    One of the niche markets BAW is targeting is the oil & gas and hydraulic valve sector. The company set this strategy in motion when specifying the VMX30U that was installed in February 2011. The trunnion table with a 420mm face plate accommodates a diverse range of chucks and is ideal for producing complex valve components. As Mr Hoseason concludes: “We identified a gap in the marketplace and acquired the ideal machine for such complex components. This acquisition has enabled BAW to expand its target markets. When we promoted our extended capabilities and new machine at the recent Southern Manufacturing Exhibition, we had a major success winning over 15 new customers and significant orders in the process. Looking to the future, we will be implementing AS: 9100 to get a stronger foothold in the aerospace market. We will also be adding to our plant list – and with immediate impact of the Hurco VMX30U, there is little doubt we will be specifying Hurco machines in the future.”

     

     

     

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    Formagrind - Electronics Sub-Contractor Expands to Beat Foreign Competition

    One British subcontractor fighting back against the threat from China, India and Eastern Europe is Formagrind (www.formagrind.com) based in Neath, South W...Read moreTags: Automotive, Medical, 3-Axis Mill, Conversational
    One British subcontractor fighting back against the threat from China, India and Eastern Europe is Formagrind (www.formagrind.com) based in Neath, South Wales.  Despite a tough period during 2002 and 2003 in the electronics industry that it predominantly serves, the company has carried on investing in an average of one Hurco vertical machining centres per year since the late 90s, and now has eight on the shop floor.
     
    Commented Formagrind's manager, Mike Couser, "Our customer base is unrecognisable compared with five years ago, showing how quickly we have had to adapt to stay in business.
     
    "We face a double threat – loss of work to overseas subcontractors as well as relocation of factories from South Wales to low-wage countries.  Five major electronic firms have announced plant closures in this area in the last few years, most recently Sony and Panasonic."
                   
    He explained that to keep production costs down, Formagrind concentrates on multi-manning the Hurco machines and minimising set-up times, allowing competitive prices to be quoted.  At the same time, over-reliance on one sector, that of making parts for printed circuit board assembly and wafer processing machines, has been cut back from 80 per cent of turnover to 35 per cent.  In its place, the company has won new contracts from the automotive and health care sectors, albeit still with the accent on electronic components for engine management systems and medical apparatus, for example.
     
    Driving down non-productive time has been crucial.  In this respect, the ease of shop floor programming on Hurco's proprietary control system has been helpful.  Mr Couser says that around half of all components are programmed on the shop floor, as the menu-driven CNC system is particularly user friendly and quick, taking the load off the company's CAD/CAM systems, which are reserved for programming more complex work.
     
    He continued, "The advantage of our Hurco VMCs is that we can produce long and short runs economically on them, giving us considerable flexibility and allowing us to offer quick turnaround to match our top quality and competitive prices.
     
    "For example, we currently devote two machines over two shifts to the manufacture of 20,000 components per month for one customer, whereas other machines frequently produce prototypes and small batches.
                                                                                                  
    "The reliability of the Hurco machines has also proved to be very good, so downtime does not eat into our profits."
     
    Serving customers in a wider variety of industries has dramatically expanded Formagrind's experience in machining different materials.  The majority of tools and fixtures produced in the early days were steel, whereas now the firm is routinely working with tungsten, titanium, ceramic, silicon carbide, silicon aluminium and exotics such as Kovar, Super Invar and other controlled expansion alloys.
     
    General tolerances are ± 10 microns, although ± 2 microns is routinely held for some applications.  Quality control is underpinned by CNC co-ordinate measuring and SPC software.  ISO 9001:2000 has been held since 1994.
     
    Recent examples of parts made by Formagrind on its Hurco VMCs include an electronics package for a GPS tracking satellite, machined from aluminium alloy in a two-hour cycle and then ground; and five-sided machining from solid round Super Invar of a microscope stage for nanotechnology, with subsequent wire erosion.
     

     

  • 5-Axis Part - Gregor

    Gregor Technologies - Hurco Makes Small Lots Profitable

    ​“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 Hurc...Read moreTags: Automotive, Aerospace, 3-Axis Mill, Conversational


    “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.