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    Moughton Engineering Services - Sub-Contractor Grows with its Machine Tool Supplier

    ​Great Yarmouth-based subcontractor, Moughton Engineering Services, has enjoyed 30 per cent annual growth for the last three years and hopes to repeat tha...Read moreTags: Lathe, 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, Energy Sector, Custom Machinery

    ​Great Yarmouth-based subcontractor, Moughton Engineering Services, has enjoyed 30 per cent annual growth for the last three years and hopes to repeat that performance in 2006. 

     
    Paul Moughton, a partner in the family-owned company, says that the upturn in the company’s business can be traced back to 2002 when his father, Brian, used money from his pension fund to purchase a Hurco Hawk 30 CNC mill.

     

    It was the first computer-controlled machine tool on site and paid for itself within six months.  Since that time, a VM2 machining centre and two TM10 CNC lathes have been delivered by the same supplier, Hurco Europe, High Wycombe.  Coincidentally, it too has increased sales rapidly over a similar period by a slightly lower annual average of 25 per cent, doubling turnover since 2002 to nearly £10 million in the financial year to 31st October 2006.
     
    The Hawk mill is an object lesson in both machine tool manufacture and user application.  Paul Eden, who along with his colleagues has been trained to set and program all of the Hurco machines at Moughton Engineering, advised that shortly after installation the Hawk was used to machine a metre-long aluminium component for a plastic window-making machine.  The end customer checked the part on a CMM and found that two 38 mm diameter holes had been interpolated at either end of the bar to a relative positional accuracy of -0 / +12 microns.
     
    A machine of this class is not expected to hold such tight tolerances and indeed there is no evidence that other Hawk mills are able to; in any case, they are no longer made.  What the CNC machine did for Moughton Engineering, however, was to propel it from a general supplier of manually machined components to a subcontractor capable of producing very high precision, repeatable components.
     
    Encouraged by the success of this project, the company approached Hurco when the decision was taken to install a CNC lathe.  The first TM10 was delivered at the end of 2004 and was joined by a second, identical 10-inch chuck model in early 2006.  "We were able to buy both of the Hurco lathes for the price of one that we considered from a Japanese supplier, albeit the latter was of higher specification," continued Mr Moughton.  "The TM10s do not have driven tool capability but have proved to be good machines that hold tolerance well on general turning work.”
     
    One example is the production of four sizes of CrMo steel fishing spears of 18 to 22 Rc hardness, used to retrieve objects from an oil or gas borehole, such as a broken drillstring or tools.  A typical spear takes 75 minutes to OD profile turn, threadcut and bore from solid billet.Another component regularly put on the TM10s is a 250 mm diameter, 316 stainless steel pressure release plate for sub-sea applications.  Following 45 minutes of OD turning and facing, the part is transferred to a Hurco VM2 three-axis machining centre for prismatic features to be machined on both sides in a one-hour cycle.
     
    The latter machine was also installed earlier this year to take some of the load from the Hawk mill and to introduce Moughton Engineering to the higher productivity offered by machines with automatic tool change.  The 40-taper VM2, with its 1016 x 457 x 457 mm working envelope and 16-station tool magazine, is described by Paul Moughton as "superb" and he is busily relocating offices onto a new, upper floor to make space for further machines, including a larger-capacity Hurco VM3.
     
    He concluded, "All of our Hurco machines are very accurate and reliable; so much so that we think it is a waste of money taking out insurance to cover spares and service after the warranty period.
     
    "When things occasionally go wrong, as they did initially with the first TM10 lathe, back-up from Hurco is very good – and you can even get through to the desk of the MD without any trouble, if necessary.”
     
    About Moughton Engineering Services
    Moughton Engineering was established in 1974 by Brian Moughton as a toolmaker and subcontract manufacturer of parts for food packaging machinery.  Despite having "retired", Brian remains active in the business at over 70 years of age.  Paul joined in 1984, but by 1997 the company still employed only three staff, including Susan Moughton.
     
    In that year, a new fabrication side to the firm was started, mainly making conveyor systems for a packaging company whose moulds and dies Moughton Engineering had been producing for many years.  A 2,000 sq ft unit was acquired to house the new division.  However, the packaging customer was forced to close in 2001 due to the high cost of removing asbestos from its buildings, so the Moughtons quickly diversified into the offshore, telecoms and power generation sectors to fill the gap.
     
    Contracts for the food and packaging industries now account for around half of turnover, mainly in East Anglia, although systems are delivered as far afield as Germany, Nigeria, Australia and the US.  Today, the firm occupies 6,000 sq ft of factory space and employs 36.

     

     

     

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    Vector Precision - 80,000 Lines of Code Versus 7 with Hurco Control

    ​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 b...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Lathe, Moldmaker, Conversational, Aerospace, Custom Machinery

    ​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.

     

    Said Mr Ford, "The program was written using Hurco's conversational programming software, for which we had bought the supplier's 3D mould and simulation packages.  The resulting program consisted of just seven lines, whereas the number of G-code instructions they represented was over 80,000 and took 20 minutes to download to the VM1.
     
    "To prepare the program conventionally would have been error-prone and taken two or three days.  It would not have been economic so we would probably have had to turn down the job.  As it was, we delivered the aluminium mould to the customer on the Sunday, ahead of the bank holiday Monday deadline."
     
    Although a job of this complexity is exceptional, Mr Ford commented that it illustrates the power of the Ultimax control system control and software, a copy of which he uses off-line rather than on the shop floor so that the machine is not tied up unnecessarily.  What is not exceptional is the one-off order; most of Vector's work is in batches of one- to 20-off, for which conversational programming is ideal, as it shortens the non-productive part of the manufacturing process.

    Mr Bourne is a chartered engineer and time-served toolmaker, while Mr Ford, also a toolmaker, was for many years a manager of another subcontracting business in the area.  Having established their business in July 2001 with a manual milling machine and lathe, they set about designing and manufacturing automated machinery for the MOD as well as pharmaceutical and food companies.  Vector still undertakes work of this type, and is currently rebuilding two round (ie cartridge and bullet) gauging machines for British Aerospace, at the same time converting them to measure a different gauge of ammunition. 
     
    Now employing six people in a larger unit in Radway Green, near Crewe, the ISO 9001:2000-approved business has diversified to serve also the rail and aerospace sectors.  Forty per cent of its turnover comes from providing a breakdown repair service, from troubleshooting and design through to component production and machine refurbishment in short time scales, allowing customers to resume manufacture quickly.
     
    When they moved into the current premises in 2003, Messrs Bourne and Ford still did not have any CNC machines, but soon bought a second-hand Hurco knee-type mill from a local firm.  Quickly they realised how much faster and more accurate it was than the manual machine, so a year later they decided to invest in a new Hurco VM1 machining centre with 660 x 356 x 457 mm working area and 16-station magazine for 40-taper tools.
     
    Advised Mr Bourne, "We looked at different machines on the market but liked the simplicity and user-friendliness of the Hurco control software so much that another Hurco machine was really a foregone conclusion.
     
    "At the same time, Hurco upgraded our CNC mill with an electronic, variable-speed head so that it would use the same programming software, giving us production flexibility."
     
    Typical prismatic machining jobs now coming off the CNC machines include a thread-milled acetyl assembly for a quiche-dosing machine, and stiffener plates for a fiberglass moulding that forms part of the cab for an off-road vehicle.  Positional accuracy of each drilled and reamed hole is ± 0.01 mm, so the plates fit precisely to the moulding when assembled with dowels.
     
    When the time came to upgrade its turning capacity from manual to CNC, Vector turned again to Hurco for a TM6 lathe, which has a 254 mm maximum turning capacity and 12-station turret for fixed tooling.  It uses a conversational programming system similar to that on the manufacturer's machining centres, allowing efficient one-off and small batch production.  The operator simply inputs the profile dimensions and the control does the rest, calculating all intersection points, even for blend arcs and chamfers.  It also sets speeds and feeds according to the tooling selected, while automatic constant surface speed calculation ensures good surface finish on the machined component.
     
    Components turned by Vector range from small gauge, solid copper bullets through prototypes for cold-rolled products to driving bands for automated machinery that need to be accurate to 0.01 mm total tolerance.  Other examples of precision turned parts are taper threads for BSPT fittings; and, for specialised vehicles such as dust carts and fire engines, 40 mm diameter steel shafts that need to have a near-ground 0.8 Ra finish to take a bush, and a tolerance of +0, -0.02 mm.

     

    Vector is now in a period of consolidation, as despite expanding into the adjoining unit in March 2004, there is little room to install further machines.  Any increase in business will be accommodated by moving from a single shift plus overtime to a double shift.  They are actively seeking extra mouldmaking work, such as the mince pie mould, as well as contracts to produce other complex 3D parts for which its CNC machines are proving ideal.

     

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    Ishida - Productivity of Hurco Machines Eliminates Outsourcing at UK Subsidiary

    ​ Summary: This article explains the benefits Ishida derived from the purchase of Hurco machining centers, which made it more cost-effective to move its...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, Custom Machinery

    Summary: This article explains the benefits Ishida derived from the purchase of Hurco machining centers, which made it more cost-effective to move its manufacturing in-house. The machine shop personnel and managers point specifically to Hurco control features that have increased their productivity—features, such as Patterns, DXF Transfer, Concurrent Programming, NC/Conversational Merge, the overall speed and usability of the WinMax platform, and Conversational Programming.
     

     

    ​UK machine shop pioneers Japanese group's in-house manufacture
    Article originally appeared in Packaging Europe Magazine

     

     
    The Japanese, family-owned Ishida group is a giant in food packaging machinery, with a worldwide turnover in excess of half a billion Euros. Perhaps surprisingly, almost all of the component parts that go into its automated weighing, filling, packing, handling and inspection equipment are made by subcontractors, while assembly is carried out at Ishida factories in Japan (Shiga prefecture), Korea, China, Brazil and the UK.
     
    Group policy on subcontracting is about to change, however, largely due to the success of a UK subsidiary in Poole, Dorset, and its use of four Hurco machining centres. Here, 80% of components are produced in-house for a new range of semi-automatic traysealers. Prototype parts are also machined for larger in-line traysealers assembled at Ishida Europe's headquarters in Birmingham, while customers' bespoke traysealer tools are designed and manufactured in Poole.
     
    In the long term, core production of traysealers will be brought in-house in its entirety, with just very simple parts and seasonal over-capacity subcontracted. The main advantage to Ishida will be faster lead-times. Other benefits are an enhanced ability to control component quality as well as scope for making higher margins by reducing subcontracted machining costs.
     
    Despite the recession in many European countries, the demand for traysealer tools has been increasing over the years, as consumer demand for pre-packed fresh meat and ready meals has been on the rise. This had led to a demand for high-speed packing lines and larger sealing tools to help food processors and packers meet the demand.
     
    The requirement to mill and drill these larger tools, mainly of C250 aluminium but sometimes 304 stainless steel, which can be over a metre long and weigh in excess of 300 kg, prompted Ishida Poole to purchase its first Hurco vertical machining centre (VMC), a VMX50t, in 2009. Until then, the company had relied on other, smaller capacity VMCs.
    Ishida Part Picture from Packaging Europe article copy.png

    Chris Witheford, Production Manager, comments, "We noticed that a local subcontractor to whom we regularly give work uses a similar Hurco machine.
    "I was particularly impressed with the ease of programming using the supplier's conversational software, WinMax, which is a Windows-based suite running on Hurco's twin screen control.Our tooling designs are based on core templates containing lots of repeating holes and pockets which need to be copied, sometimes rotated and pasted elsewhere .For this, the pattern location functionality within WinMax is ideal and saves a great deal of time. This is important to us, as batch sizes here are typically ones, twos and threes, so programming takes up a large part of overall production time."
     

     

    David Nielsen, machine shop team leader at Ishida Poole, agrees: "WinMax is at least three times quicker at creating programs than the conversational control on our previous VMcs, some of which are still in use for making spares and on which the control systems employ Q-def programming. The latter tend to be laborious, whereas WinMax is more user-friendly."

     

     
    According to Hurco, WinMax controls can be used to prepare programs simultaneously while a component is being machined. A graphic of the component is visible on the right hand screen as the cutting paths are being created. At the end of the process, the entire cycle can be simulated to ensure that there are no interference issues.
     
    This is particularly important when machining small batches, as a single scrapped part could be a high proportion of total production. The twin screen also improves staff confidence when running the program, bearing in mind that 80 to 90% of solid material is removed to make a tooling plate. Cycle times vary from around one hour for an insert up to a full shift to machine an entire plate.
     
    Mr Nielsen continues, "A valuable feature of the Hurco control for 2D programming is that it accepts DXF files directly from our SolidWorks CAD system.
     
    "One tooling plate might contain 120 holes and it is very time-consuming and error-prone to key in the hole centres individually by hand, whereas WinMax picks them up automatically from the DXF data.
     
    "When we have 3D elements to program, like the front heater plate profile for a tool, we find it quicker to prepare those blocks in a OneCNC CADCAM package and add them to 2D elements written conversationally in WinMax, using another of its useful functions, NC Merge."
     
    All of the machine tools on the shop floor, which now include a further Hurco VMX50t and two smaller VMX42t machines purchased at MACH 2012, are networked to a server at Poole, together with the CADCAM systems. Mr Nielsen adds, "Compared with programs previously written conversationally using other controls, those generated in WinMax are more standardised and clearer, which is an advantage for networking."
     
    The result is seamless transmission of program data and tooling lists, ensuring that any Hurco machine can produce any part (subject to size compatibility) with minimum delay, creating a lean production environment. Four operators, two fewer than previously, run the machine shop despite there being more CNC machine tools, currently seven.
     
    The specification of all the Hurco VMX machines includes a 12,000 rpm spindle with a chiller for high speed cutting of aluminum, a dual-wound motor to provide high torque at low revs when machining stainless steel, and an 8-jet coolant ring for flooding the cutting area to remove chips efficiently.
     
    The four Hurco VMXs at Ishida Poole have transformed the company's approach to prismatic machining and allowed it to take cost out of production. That is important, as the site is a cost centre within the group and constantly takes buy-or-make decisions based on the price of producing a part in-house compared with how much a subcontractor would charge. Invariably, the internal production cost is lower, which fits with the firm's aim of bringing more of its manufacture in-house.



     

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    AB Graphic International Increases Efficiency with DCX22

    The world's leading manufacturer of narrow-web label finishing and converting lines, AB Graphic International, used to put out the machining of large plat...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Dual Column, Conversational, Custom Machinery
    The world's leading manufacturer of narrow-web label finishing and converting lines, AB Graphic International, used to put out the machining of large plates used in the construction of its equipment.  Even though free-issue aluminium, mild steel and boiler plate was supplied to subcontractors, expenditure on machining was in excess of £80,000 per year.
     
    So in July 2009, the Bridlington company installed a Hurco DCX22 bridge-type machining centre and brought the work in-house.  The competitive price of the 2,200 x 1,700 x 750 mm capacity machine means that it will pay for itself within 18 months. Phil Robson, operations manager at AB Graphic, commented, "We machine a lot of ones and twos when producing larger structural plates; 12-off is a big batch for us.  "Rapid set-up is therefore very important for economical manufacture of components.  "We chose the Hurco machine partly because the Windows-based conversational control has the ability to import data files directly from our CAD system, speeding program preparation."
       
    Machine operator Andy Playforth takes up the story.  "Over our network or using a memory stick, I download a DXF file of the part to the Hurco Ultimax CNC and it appears on one of the two screens.  The conversational menu within the WinMax software comes up on the other screen to guide me through the programming sequence.  "I extract all component features and dimensions from the 2D file.  For example, the software will identify all holes of a certain size and put them automatically into the program.  I just need to tell the machine which drill to use. "Similarly, pocket coordinates are entered without having to key them in manually.  Again, I simply specify the mill and the direction of travel and the next part of the cycle writes itself automatically. In this way, the program is quickly compiled.
     
    If a repeat job is being run and design changes have been made since the last iteration of the component, which frequently happens due to AB Graphic continually striving for improved production efficiency, edits to the program are made easily on-screen from notes on the drawing.

    Mr Playforth says that a large aluminium plate measuring, say, 2,150 x 1,500 x 20 mm and containing over 100 features can be programmed in less than 45 minutes at the Ultimax control.  In contrast, the same job would take many hours on a different control on the shop floor, as all parameters would have to be keyed in manually, with a consequent risk of human error and potential for scrapped parts.
     
    He continued, "Having two screens on the CNC system means I can see a graphic of the part created as the program is built up.  It is rather like having a CADCAM system inside the control. "You can get similar software for other controls, but it costs extra and we would need to retrofit different packages to all of the various CNCs on our shop floor to achieve the same functionality."
     
    Another big advantage of WinMax, he says, is that the program stores the position of the part on the table as well as the cutting cycle.  So if the next billet is fixtured in exactly the same place and no edits are required, production can start immediately.
     
    Founded in 1953 by George Burton and now in its third generation of family ownership, AB Graphic employs 180 in Bridlington, nearby Middleton and Baesweiler, Germany.  Over 80 per cent of production is exported.

    It is the company's policy to subcontract out half to three-quarters of component production, according to the workload on its own shop floor.  It was one of the local subcontractors, which operates several, albeit smaller, Hurco machining centres, that recommended AB Graphic source its bridge-type machine from the same supplier.
     
    Installation of the DCX22 was described by Mr Robson as "phenomenal", carried out by "consummate professionals".  Apart from the machine’s competitive price and the benefits of the integrated Hurco control, the other feature that impressed AB Graphic’s production staff was the all-round guarding, allowing aluminium to be milled at high speed without showering chips all over the shop floor.  Other bridge mills they looked at only had fence-type or open guards.
     
    In practice, the machine has proved to be very accurate.  Some dimensional and positional tolerances – hole centres for the path rollers that transport the web, for example – are down to 10 microns total to ensure accurate label production and printing.
     
    Based on the success of the DCX22, when another machining centre on the shop floor had reached the end of its useful life, the automatic choice to replace it was another Hurco, a VMX42m with 1,067 x 610 x 610 mm working envelope.  It is fitted with a Max control, which has all of the Windows functionality of an Ultimax, but without the second screen.
     
    Speed of programming is only one way in which AB Graphic maximises production efficiency.  Both Hurco machines, and indeed seven other machining centres on the shop floor, carry drilled jig plates on the tables to reduce the time needed to locate and clamp components.
      
    Renishaw tool length setting and probing for datuming components and post-machining inspection have been fitted to the Hurcos to ensure that machining starts as soon as possible after the component has been fixtured.
     
    A further initiative has been to work with tooling suppliers to maximise metal removal rates.  Solid carbide cutters are used, mainly from SGS for machining aluminium and Fenn for use on steel.  Mr Robson referred to big improvements that have been made in tooling performance over the past year.  The power and rigidity of the Hurco machining centres helps to extract maximum advantage from this latest tooling technology.

     

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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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    Acrona Engineering - The Magnificent Seven

    ​Seven vertical machining centres from the same supplier, HURCO Europe, have been installed during the past 10 years in the Witney, Oxfordshire works of A...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Custom Machinery, Medical

    ​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.


    The investment was prompted by existing customers in the aerospace, medical and motor sport sectors in particular asking the subcontractor to manufacture more complex parts from a variety of materials.  However, the machine’s presence on the shop floor has attracted additional work from new sources as well.

    One of the first jobs onto the machine was an aluminium component for equipment designed to secure screw-on caps to the tops of drinks bottles.  Another application was one-hit 5-axis machining of cryogenic components from copper, involving positioning two of the CNC axes and interpolating the other three.  In an example of fully interpolative 5-axis machining, Acrona Engineering produced clutches from titanium billets for an F1 race car.
     
    Albert Soave, owner and managing director, commented, "We are winning more and more contracts from first-tier suppliers to the aerospace industry, which now accounts for about a quarter of our turnover.  Our plan is to move further into this type of high-added-value work, for which the 5-axis machine is ideal."
     
    A high-speed Hurco VMX42HS machining centre with 15,000 rpm spindle and a fourth axis was installed recently to fulfill a job for the brewery sector, involving the production of 1,500-off components from billets of black acetyl, 88 at a time, in two set-ups.
     
    The first operation was programmed conversationally at the HURCO control running WinMax Windows-based software.  The extra CNC axis, provided by a rotary indexer, was then used for complex profiling on the reverse of the component in a second operation that was programmed off-line on a Pathtrace CADCAM system.
     
    A high spindle speed was needed for this application not only to raise productivity but also to achieve a fine surface finish.  Normally such parts would be moulded, but in this instance the volumes were not high enough to warrant the expense of having a mould tool made.
    Another application for the same industry involved machining food-grade plastic (Nylatron) for the production of a cider and slush dispenser.  This particular application required the use of the fourth axis for complex surfacing work.
     
    A further job for the brewery sector, which should gladden the hearts of sports enthusiasts keen on a beer at half-time, was Acrona’s production from a similar plastic material of a fast-pour spout.  It is employed to dispense four pints of lager in six seconds in sports stadia across the country.
    The VMX42HS is also highly productive when machining light alloys.  For example, a part was machined at Witney from aircraft grade aluminium for Britain’s Beagle 2 Mars lander.
     
    To fulfill a contract for the pharmaceutical industry, this time from 6082 aluminium, Acrona Engineering produced a batch of feed-through tubes that deliver tablets into blister packs before they are sealed.  The component is first turned and then transferred to the fourth axis indexer on the machining centre for a spiral to be milled down part of the length.  The component’s complexity required programming to be carried out off-line, tolerances being down to ± 10 microns.

    Where many subcontractors serving the aerospace industry have moved towards HURCO’s larger capacity, gantry-type machines, Acrona has gone the other way, favouring the manufacturer’s smallest VM1 vertical machining centre with 660 x 355 x 457 mm working envelope.  One was installed in 2007 and a further model, this time with a fourth axis, was installed earlier this year.

    Continued Mr Soave, "These machines are good value for money and very compact.  Our bigger machines are more economical when producing larger parts, whereas the VM1 is ideal for machining smaller components in batches ranging from one-off to several hundreds.
     
    "Our plan is to move towards larger volumes of more sophisticated, higher value components.  Already a number of existing customers as well as some new companies have asked us to quote for this type of work."
     
    To this end, Acrona Engineering has also been strengthening its turning department and has recently installed its first sub-spindle lathe with Y and C axes.  It brings to seven the number of turning machines on site.
     
    In conclusion, Mr Soave highlights the long-term accuracy of HURCO machining centres, stating that his first three machines, installed a decade ago, are still in daily use and reliably holding tolerances as tight as 10 microns.

     

     

     

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    Ottenweller Co. - Hurco Control Is Easiest to Use in the Industry

    “It is so easy to train someone to drill, tap, or mill on the Hurco UltiMax® control with the English language programming.” —Mike Ottenweller, Owner   ...Read moreTags: Conversational, 3-Axis Mill, Custom Machinery

    “It is so easy to train someone to drill, tap, or mill on the Hurco UltiMax® control with the English language programming.”

    —Mike Ottenweller, Owner
     

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    Mike Ottenweller is the grandson of Ed Ottenweller, the founder of Ottenweller Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ed began the business in 1916 as a blacksmith shop that manufactured wagon hitches, steel tires for wooden wagon wheels, and forging repair and forge welding for local contractors and businesses. The business evolved over the next 30 years with the company manufacturing parts for International Harvester and General Electric in Fort Wayne.
     
    Key Hurco Advantage
    The machining department at Ottenweller provides a support function for their main effort in sheet metal and plate fabrication. The company needed a machine with more sophistication and efficiency then a standard knee mill. In the mid-80s, Ottenweller bought their first Hurco machining center. One of the main factors for buying the Hurco machining center was its easy-to-use UltiMax control, which allows the machinist to sequence all the value-added steps needed to machine a part. A machinist using the UltiMax control can reduce or eliminate dead time between steps of conventional CNC operation, resulting in significant savings. Also, machinists can skillfully use the system within days. The most recent Hurco machines at Ottenweller are two VMX50 machining centers with the easy to use UltiMax controls. “The VMX50 machining centers are very powerful and the coolant through the spindle helps with tool life and for flushing chips during a heavy drilling process,” says Mike Ottenweller.
     
    Summary
    Ottenweller and Hurco are in the third decade of their relationship. During this time, the increased power and accuracy of Hurco machining systems have been able to meet the challenge of machining Ottenweller’s more sophisticated and tighter tolerance work pieces. The common thread in this long relationship is the UltiMax control. Today, as it was in the mid-eighties, Hurco's control is the easiest to use in the industry.

     

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    Lindsay Machine Works - Control Promotes Growth

    ​​In 1994, after working for several shops in the Kansas City area and serving his machinist apprenticeship in the U.S. Navy, Mike Lindsay founded Lindsay...Read moreTags: Conversational, Lathe, 3-Axis Mill, Custom Machinery

    ​​In 1994, after working for several shops in the Kansas City area and serving his machinist apprenticeship in the U.S. Navy, Mike Lindsay founded Lindsay Machine Works in Richmond, Missouri. His one-man shop grew to five and eventually outgrew their location. In 2002 he moved the business to nearby Independence, a suburb of Kansas City.

     

    Mike started his business with manual equipment, serving the general machining and repair needs of local businesses in the paper, food processing and agricultural industries. While Mike could meet the needs of his customers for simple repair work and very small runs, the inefficiencies and time requirements of his manual machines didn’t allow him to compete when quoting even small jobs of more than five or ten pieces.

    Key Hurco Advantage
    Recently, Hurco’s local distributor, Gage Machine Tool, convinced Mike that he needed to make the plunge into CNC and that the Hurco VM1 was the perfect vehicle. CNC was a big change for Mike. He didn’t even have a PC in the shop. But the local distributor promised and delivered on training and Mike was making parts in just a few days. After a month, profits began to soar. These days Mike would not even think of operating his shop without the Hurco vertical machining center. The VM1 made him very competitive and profitable.
     
    Lathes are also an integral part of Lindsay Machine Works. His huge swing manual lathe could handle very large shaft work, but he didn't have an efficient machine for smaller parts turning work and ended up passing on many business opportunities. Based on the success of his VM1, Mike purchased Hurco's new TM8 CNC slant-bed turning center and installed it next to the VM1, creating a CNC cell. Since Mike and his machinists were already familiar with the Hurco control, they were able to quickly get up to speed.  Should Lindsay Machine Works continue to expand, Mike knows that both new operators and experienced machinists can make the most of the TM8 which can be programmed via Hurco's conversational programming, G-Code and with offline CAM software. Even CAD programs can be imported to the control-- something that cannot be done on other turning centers.

     

    Summary
    Lindsay Machine Works depends on quick and reliable turn-around times to keep customers and develop new ones. The Hurco CNC cell, consisting of a VM1 VMC and the new TM8 CNC slant-bed turning center, is a vital part of their business today and in the future.