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    S-3 Industries - Right Equipment is Key to Success

    ​S-3 Industries in Ontario, Canada, produces a wide variety of products using multiple materials, such as aluminum, nickel-based alloys, castings, stainle...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Defense, Energy Sector, UltiMotion, NC

    ​S-3 Industries in Ontario, Canada, produces a wide variety of products using multiple materials, such as aluminum, nickel-based alloys, castings, stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, titanium, exotic metals, and plastics. Customers include aerospace, military/defense, satellite and communications, and enery and resource companies.

     

    S-3 purchased a VM10i due to the power of the integrated Hurco control. S-3 Operations Manager Vince Ferri says, "You can do many production pieces on the VM10i with ease, but it's also great for secondary operations...It is fast to set up, and incredibly user-friendly."

     

    To read the entire article, which appeared in Metalworking Purchasing & Production, click here.

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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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    Portchester Engineering LTD - Shop Floor Programming Speeds Production

    ​​Two-thirds of Portchester Engineering’s  turnover comes from subcontract production of metal and plastic components for the marine industry, shipbuilder...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, Energy Sector

    ​​Two-thirds of Portchester Engineering’s  turnover comes from subcontract production of metal and plastic components for the marine industry, shipbuilders as well as offshore oil and gas platform operators being regular customers.  To provide additional capacity for machining smaller prismatic parts within a 660 x 356 x 457 mm envelope, the company has added an entry-level Hurco VM1 vertical machining centre to its plant list.

     

    Samantha Morrison, who bought the six-employee company from a family member in 2002, joined the firm in the early 1990s when all of the mills and lathes on the shop floor were manually operated.  Now there are three machining centres and the same number of CNC lathes in addition to manual machines.  Over the years, the customer base has expanded to include the motorsport and scientific instrumentation sectors.


    Located near Portsmouth and due to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Portchester Engineering tends to produce small batch sizes.  100-off is a large order, with five-offs down to one-offs more usual.  So it is  essential to set up jobs quickly to maintain profitability, as fixturing and programming often represent a large proportion of total production time.

     

    Hurco’s single-screen CNC system with slimline touch-screen colour LCD uses drop-down menus, conversational programming and scalable graphics to speed program generation on the shop floor.
     
    Commented Ms Morrison, "Compared with the older machining centre that the VM1 replaced, which had a control that required G-code programming, the Hurco MAX control is much faster to program on the shop floor, so less time is wasted getting the job into production.
     
    "Nearly all of our programmes are prepared this way.  Only if the component is particularly complex or needs an engraved identification number do we generate the cutting cycles off-line using Vero VisiCAM."
     
    Another aspect of the VM1 that she liked in particular when vetting the machine at Hurco’s High Wycombe showroom was the speed of the machine.  The 10,000 rpm spindle option, 19 m/min rapids and BT40 tool change time were all faster than on the previous machine.  In addition, the small footprint of 1.8 x 1.6 metres was useful to minimise the amount of space taken up on the shop floor.
     
    A wide range of materials is processed by the subcontractor, from plastics through brass and mild steel to Duplex, stainless steel and titanium.  General tolerance is ±0.01 millimetre, which the VM1 easily holds. www.portchesterengineering.co.uk
     

     

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    Veem Engineering - Forget the Vuvuzela, Get the Minizela

    “We are also currently working on additional designs for the other sports. So watch out rugby fans.” -- Sacha Vere, General Manager, Veem Engineering, S...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, NC, Moldmaker, Energy Sector

    “We are also currently working on additional designs for the other sports.
    So watch out rugby fans.”

    -- Sacha Vere, General Manager, Veem Engineering, South Africa
     
    When people think of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they instantly remember the Vuvuzela. Now get the football hooter known as the Minizela. Unlike its big, cumbersome more famous cousin, the Minizela is only 14 cm in size and comes in a completely different shape. The principle of blowing to make the sound that is just as pervasive and noisy as the Vuvuzela holds true, but in the case of the Minizela, far less effort and technique is required.

     

    As one can see by the pictures in this article the shape of the Minizela is completely different to the Vuvuzela and has been 100% patented, according to its developers Veem Engineering.
     
    Veem Engineering was founded in 1969 and today is run jointly by equal share partners Sacha Vere and Debbie van der Westhuizen. The company, started by Sacha’s father who was a tool and die maker, focused initially on general engineering with emphasis on special tooling manufacture and high pressure zinc die casting. This type of work continued to occupy the company’s shopfloor until 1995 before a change of emphasis took place. Plastic products and components were making their mark so Sacha Vere decided to purchase a plastic injection moulding machine. He had the design experience to make the moulds and was soon manufacturing a variety of plastic components for a number of industries.
     
    As the plastic injection moulding business flourished, there came a greater need bring some of the tooling manufacture in-house. This would help to improve product quality and speed of turnaround. Sacha Vere comments “The plastics side of the business was very successful and we needed to maintain our reputation so we decided last year to take control of the situation and start investing in the tool room again.”
     
    New Hurco CNC machining centre
    Last year the company moved forward in this department by investing in a Hurco VM1 CNC high speed machining centre with conversational programming.When Sacha started looking for CNC equipment with a low-cost investment for the tool room he was not sure what he wanted. However after he saw Hurco’s VM1 at a local show, he realised that he could get machining centre performance and productivity without sacrificing fast programming and setup. His decision was easy.
     
    Hurco’s VM1 machining centre hit the mark for the versatility Veem Engineering needed. Its X-Y-Z axis travels at 660mm x 356mm x 457mm, packaged on a 2 700 Kg frame that only takes up 3.5 m², made it a perfect fit for their operations. Coupled with its 15 HP 10,000 RPM spindle, 18 mpm rapids and 16-station swing arm ATC, the VM1 was ideal for the challenges that they face.

    “We are now able to make and maintain our moulds again. Our tool designer also invested in SolidWorks and Autocad packages on the design side as well as MasterCAM on the machining side” explained Sacha.
     
    “We can now provide customers the unique service of designing the required product, manufacturing the mould, designing the necessary tooling and then manufacturing the final plastic product.”

    Other products produced by Veem Engineering include low cost lighting and SABS approved electrical fittings that are sold to various electrical wholesalers and distributors, and mining products manufactured to ISO specifications that are currently sold to Impala Platinum mines. The mining products are used in underground drilling machines. Other products include hi-tech computer controlled smoke detection units made under licence, promotional items in plastic and zinc as well as a range of custom mouldings for the telecommunications industry.
     
    The Minizela
    The idea to design and manufacture the Minizela was conceptualised in 2009. “We believe that the Vuvuzela is a cumbersome product that is very ugly when you look at it. We admit that it has enthralled the masses but there is always room for a product that is unique to the sport. You will see with the first one that we have designed, that it comes in the shape of a football” said Debbie.
     
    “The design was quite challenging especially as you had to ensure that the sound emanating from the product was ‘pleasant’ on the ear and right from the beginning we had decided that the product had to be something more manageable in terms of its handling aspects” continued Debbie.
     
    “The Minizela is made up of four components and a diaphragm. We make the mould tools on the Hurco and injection mould the components in-house. Each cycle time is about 30 seconds and we are capable of producing about 80,000 a month.”  “The beauty of the Minizela is that the branding is a simple task and is identified via a sport. For example if you wanted a Manchester United Minizela we make up the plastic shrink wrap to your design. The possibilities are endless in this area. We are currently working on additional designs for the other sports as well, so watch out rugby fans” Debbie enthused.  “We made it just in time for this 2010 Football World Cup and we are very pleased that it is a Proudly South African product” concluded Debbie.
     
    Veem Engineering is based in Knights, Germiston, Gauteng and utilises 600 m² of factory space. The current staff compliment is 17.
     
    For further details contact Veem Engineering on Telephone: +27  (0)11 822 7671

     

     

     

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    A & G Precision - The Profitability of 5-Axis

    Read how this sub-contractor reduced machining time from 60 minutes to 8 minutes by switching from 3-axis to 5-axis.  The installation of two new Hurco m...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, NC, Conversational, 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Defense, Motorsports, Energy Sector

    Read how this sub-contractor reduced machining time from 60 minutes to 8 minutes by switching from 3-axis to 5-axis. 

    The installation of two new Hurco machining centres has allowed Lancashire subcontractor, A&G Precision, to attract more work and produce components more efficiently in fewer set-ups.


    The company is a leading producer of complex components used in key military and civil aircraft programmes.  It is also active in other sectors, principally defence, marine, petrochemical, motorsport, rail and pharmaceutical engineering.In addition to batch production of high-precision components, A&G provides a range of additional services including prototyping, sub-assembly manufacture and reverse engineering.

     
    One long-running job, an aluminium part, used to be produced in three set-ups on a 3- axis machining centre at the subcontractor’s Poulton-le-Fylde works.  The   complexity of the component necessitated a lot of step-down profile generation using a ball-nose milling cutter, so overall machining time was around one hour. The same part has been re-programmed and is now completed in a single, eight-minute cycle on the company’s first 5-axis machining centre, a Hurco VMX42SR installed in mid 2008.  Not only is there a large saving in machining time, but two set-ups are eliminated as well, considerably reducing the cost of manufacture.
     
    Another component to benefit from one-hit, 5-axis, prismatic machining, in this case after a turning operation, is a steel eye bolt that previously required three separate operations on a 3-axis machining centre.  The bolt is of relatively simple design, so there is little difference in overall machining time, but two set-ups are saved.

    Michael Pinder, a director of A&G, commented, “Generally, we do not reprogram existing components to run on the 5-axis Hurco unless they are ongoing jobs and savings are significant.  However, the availability of the machine has changed the way we approach the machining of new components.“In the first year after we started operating the VMX42SR, we produced 73 different parts on it in titanium, aluminium and various steels including stainless.  A proportion of those contracts we previously would not have won, as the prices for producing them conventionally would not have been competitive.” He went on to explain that the machine was not purchased in anticipation of receiving new contract, but was bought on spec after a number of customers repeatedly offered A&G 5-axis work that it could not fulfil.      
     
    Several machines were shortlisted and reviewed at MACH 2008.  One reason for choosing the Hurco was the powerful 36 kW / 12,000 rpm spindle.  Another was the easy-to-use Ultimax twin-screen control, which includes a special version of the proprietary WinMax software specifically designed to simplify programming of complex, multi-sided parts.

    A further significant factor in the purchasing decision was the swivelling head design with horizontal rotary table, which Mr Pinder says offers a larger working envelope than the more usual configurations based on a vertical spindle and two-axis, trunnion-mounted table.  In some instances, components are set up in the space at the side of the rotary table on the VMX42SR for second-operation work to be carried out.

    At the end of 2008, A&G installed a second Hurco machining centre, this time a 3-axis VMX60t with two-metre capacity in X.  It was in response to an approach from an existing customer that wanted some ribs machined, knowing that the subcontractor had the necessary ISO 9001:2000 and AS9100 approvals.

    The rib contract was limited, but Mr Pinder found that once the machine was installed, its existence on the shop floor created work as soon as customers heard that the facility was available.  A couple of dozen different jobs approaching the machine’s capacity have already been won as a result. Additionally, several smaller jobs can be fixtured in separate vices on the table to meet demand when the smaller machines are  working flat out, so very little time is wasted. 

    Programming of the Hurco machines is carried out either at a PC in the office running WinMax software or on the shop floor at the Ultimax control.  In the case of the 5-axis machine, most programming is off-line, as components tend to be complex.  Customers supply mainly Catia models that are converted to STEP files.  Open Mind’s hyperMILL CAM software converts these into efficient cutter paths that are post-processed and downloaded to the Ultimax control.

    The reverse is true of program preparation for the VMX60t.  So far, most has been done at the machine, owing to the simpler nature of the work, except for the ribs.  Some of the shop floor staff had already used Ultimax at previous companies, so were familiar with its strengths.

    Continued Mr Pinder, “The conversational control is the easiest to use of all our CNC systems and is practically foolproof.  The operator simply follows instructions on the touch screen, working his way down, filling in the boxes.
     
    “At any point, pressing the ‘draw’ button produces a component graphic on the second screen that shows exactly where he has reached in the program.  My brother, Jordan, who is an apprentice here, learnt the system very quickly and is now able to program quite complicated jobs.“We do a lot of prototype work here as well as one- and two-offs.  Typical batch size is 10-off.  So speed of programming is essential to keep production costs down.”

    A&G’s purchase of the two Hurco machines is part of an expansion programme over the past 18 months that has seen more than £1 million spent on plant acquisition and buying, extending and refurbishing its previously rented Poulton-le-Fylde premises, a Grade 2-listed corn mill. 

    The 38-strong, £3 million-turnover business has become an integral part of the North West of England’s regional aerospace supply chain.  It is still a family-owned company, established in 1989 by the current managing director, Arthur Pinder, and another son, Scott.

     

     

     

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    Ayrshire Precision - 2-Meter DCX22 Leads to New Work for Energy Industry

    Few contract machinists in Scotland have a modern, vertical machining centre to match the 2,200 x 1,700 x 750 mm capacity of the Hurco twin-column, bridge...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, Energy Sector, NC

    Few contract machinists in Scotland have a modern, vertical machining centre to match the 2,200 x 1,700 x 750 mm capacity of the Hurco twin-column, bridge-type DCX22 installed at the Coylton works of Ayrshire Precision. This was precisely why managing director, Bert Bradford, purchased the machine on spec in February 2011. Since taking the plunge, the company has secured new work in each of its main industry sectors – mining, nuclear and oil / gas.

     
    The first new job to come along was refurbishment of explosion-proof, steel covers for transformers used in coal mines. They are cooled by water flowing through a hollow jacket, the inner surfaces of which need to be roughened to create turbulence and increase heat transfer to the water. These and other plates up to four metres long are machined for the mining sector on the 50-taper DCX22, the larger workpieces requiring two clampings on the 2,100 x 1,600 mm table.

    Forty-metre-long distillation tanks for nuclear waste storage require many large, high tensile steel panels to be machined and 25 such vessels are planned in the UK to cool and make safe spent radioactive material. Ayrshire Precision has won a contract to contribute to this project, which involves not only milling the panels but also drilling large numbers of holes to accept temperature probes.
     
    More recently, 500 mm diameter flanges for the oil industry have been machined cost-effectively on the DCX22, the first such machine to be installed in Scotland, thanks in part to the ability to set up four at a time on the table. Each flange requires milling and drilling of 16 holes. Centres have to be within ± 25 microns, while the tolerance held on a sealing groove is 18 microns total.
     
    All four parts are completed in one hit to minimise tool changes and maximise production efficiency. Moving from one part to the next is achieved rapidly and automatically using the 'work offset' feature of WinMax, the conversational programming software in the proprietary Hurco control system. The same feature can be used for multiple part machining, even when setting up dis-similar jobs for unattended running.
       
    To maximise, flexibility, Bert Bradford bought a universal angle head from Hurco for use on the DCX22, which is proving especially useful for machining internal slots and angled holes. A separate WinMax module was written by Hurco to accommodate this extra facility.
    Mr Bradford commented, "During the MACH 2010 exhibition in Birmingham, Hurco gave a good demonstration of their WinMax-based twin-screen control system.
     
    "We use the menu-driven, conversational programming nearly all the time, as it is so quick and easy at generating cutting cycles for our jobs, which in most cases are relatively simple. Occasionally we will program off-line on our Edgecam system for more complex work.

     

    "The DCX is our first Hurco machine, but our lead programmer, David Torbet, had no trouble picking up WinMax and our other machine operators can use it as well."

     

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    Quadscot Precision Engineers - Oil and Gas Specialist Moves into 5-Axis Machining

    ​With a BP quality award hanging on its office wall alongside a platinum  award from Cameron Subsea Systems confirming 24 consecutive months' delivery of ...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, 3-Axis Mill, Energy Sector

    ​With a BP quality award hanging on its office wall alongside a platinum  award from Cameron Subsea Systems confirming 24 consecutive months' delivery of zero defect products, Blantyre-based Quadscot Precision Engineers is a leading Scottish subcontractor serving the offshore oil and gas sector.

     
    For its prismatic machining requirements, until recently the company relied on 3-axis vertical machining centres (VMCs) including a Hurco VMX1 installed in 2008 and a 12-year-old VMX42 with Nikken 4th axis.  As part of an on-going investment programme in new plant, two further, larger VMCs were purchased from the same supplier at the beginning of 2010. The objective was to bring the subcontractor's milling capacity more into line with its 1.5 metre by 500 mm diameter turning capability.  One of the new Hurcos, Quadscot's first 5-axis model, was a VMX60SR. It has a 1,525 x 660 x 610 mm working volume, a horizontal rotary C-axis table and a ± 92 degree B-axis head that allows the 36 kW, 40-taper spindle to be positioned within a program anywhere between vertical and horizontal. Renishaw tool and part probing have been fitted to speed set-ups.

    Not only does the machine meet the size requirement stipulated by production director, Jim Smith, but it also allows multi-sided parts and those of complex geometry to be produced more accurately and cost-effectively.  Mr Smith commented, "Some components that previously needed three separate set-ups for milling operations can be produced in one hit on the VMX60SR.
     
    "The faster cycles and reduced handling result in production cost savings of around 30 per cent for some bigger parts. Our customers therefore benefit from more competitive prices and faster turnaround.  "Moreover, tolerances of typically ± 25 microns are easier to hold when not repeatedly refixturing heavy components in different axes; and fixture costs are also reduced.
     
    The other new Hurco machining centre is a VMX50-50t 4-axis model with a 22 kW / 8,000 rpm / 353 Nm CAT50 spindle, the most powerful that the manufacturer offers in its VMX range. The machine also has large axis travels of 1,270 x 660 x 610 mm and was supplied with 3D mould software within the Hurco WinMax programming suite running in the proprietary twin-screen control system.
     
    Jim Smith's partner, sales director Billy Hepburn, said, "A lot of our customers use high performance materials such as Super Duplex, Inconel and Toughmet, which are challenging to machine.  "Having plant like the 50-50t allows us to be more cost-effective when machining tough and exotic metals. The accuracy is there too – we frequently mill parts using 4-axis simultaneous movements to 25 microns tolerance."
     
    The 44-employee subcontractor was set up 22 years ago by a team of skilled engineers and toolmakers with a wealth of experience in precision CNC subcontract machining. Production of subsea Christmas tree parts, down-hole tools and wellhead equipment are particular specialisms. A highly focussed approach to customer service has been fundamental to the development of the company, along with careful selection and purchase of CNC milling and turning machines. Today, it operates from an 8,500 sq. ft. factory on the Blantyre Industrial Estate, a few miles south-east of Glasgow. 
     
    The company is a long-time user of Hurco equipment. Indeed, the first VMC it bought back in 1990 was one of the supplier's KM3P knee mills with Ultimax II twin-screen CNC. Even in those days, the control and programming software was well ahead of its time, allowing Quadscot's machine operators to program parts easily without needing to know or even learn G-codes. Any programming mistakes were picked up from the graphic screen before putting tool to metal.
     
    Jim Smith added, "We have stayed with Hurco equipment over the years largely because of the flexibility of the control system, which has always been much faster than others on the market. That is important to us, as all of our programming is done on the shop floor.  "We looked at a number of 5-axis machines before buying the VMX60SR and even considered a horizontal-spindle, twin-pallet machining centre at one point.  "However, we opted again for the Hurcos due to the combination of the user-friendly control and rigidity of construction, plus the versatility and robustness of the B-axis head design in the case of the 5-axis machine."

     

     

     

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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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    S & E Engineering - Zero to Seven CNC Machines in Two Years

    There can be few companies that have embraced CNC machining so quickly and enthusiastically as S&E Engineering.  The family-run subcontractor installe...Read moreTags: Lathe, 3-Axis Mill, Energy Sector

    There can be few companies that have embraced CNC machining so quickly and enthusiastically as S&E Engineering.  The family-run subcontractor installed its first computer-controlled machine tool in 2005 and by January 2007 had invested in four vertical machining centres and three CNC lathes – all from Hurco.

     

    Martin Sanderson started the Scunthorpe company in 1988 with a £10,000 bank loan, at which time he had a mortgage and a family to support.  The first month’s turnover was £48, which focussed his mind on swiftly increasing the level and profitability of his business.  This he did, and by 2005 he owned an impressive array of manually operated machines including large horizontal and vertical borers, three centre lathes, one of which can turn parts up to four metres long, and a number of smaller machines.

     

    There has always been an emphasis at S&E Engineering on machining of larger workpieces, which sets the subcontractor apart from many of its competitors.  Once he started to invest in CNC machines, Mr Sanderson decided to maintain his capability to provide large-capacity milling by installing two Hurco VMX64s, which have working volumes of 1,625 x 860 x 760 mm and can accommodate nearly three tonnes on the tables.  Two smaller VMX42s provide 1,066 x 610 x 610 mm machining capacity for components weighing up to 1,360 kg.
     
    There were compelling reasons for S&E Engineering to invest in CNC machine tools.  Potential customers were saying that they would not allow non-CNC plant to be used to machine their parts.  Some work for which the subcontractor was asked to quote could not practically be produced on a manual machine to the required tolerances.  Then one customer supplying repair equipment to the offshore industry suggested that more work would be forthcoming if a machining centre were to be installed, although there was no guarantee.
     
    Mr Sanderson duly bought the first VMX42, which rapidly reached capacity based on his firm’s 7.00 am to 5.00 pm shift pattern.  So it has been with all of the other Hurco machining centres, which have hardly stopped from the time they were installed.  Where possible the machining centres, particularly the larger models, are left unattended to cut a part into an evening ghost shift.
     
    The second CNC machine on site was one of the lathes – a 254 mm chuck model designated TM10 – followed by another identical machine and a smaller 203 mm-chuck TM8.  The idea was to migrate the benefits that resulted from the first machining centre across to the turning department, in the first instance for batch production of steel components.

    Martin Sanderson’s brother, Jamie, is responsible for running the turning cell and despite having had no previous programming experience, was conversant with generating programs using the Hurco Max controls after just two days’ training.  Previously, his time was spent looking after one manual lathe.
     
    Commented machine shop manager, Jim Swan, brother-in-law to the Sandersons, “We routinely hold tolerances of 20 microns on all of our Hurco machines and the 100th part off is exactly the same as the first – a degree of accuracy and repeatability that is not possible using manual machine tools.
     
    “The other major benefit is that labour cost per machine is around one third of what it used to be for a given output, so we have been able to freeze the prices we charge customers to compete more effectively in a global marketplace and still make a profit.”

    All programs are input on the shop floor using Hurco’s conversational Ultimax or Max control systems, which S&E Engineering staff find easy to use and ideal for small batch work and even one-offs, as are frequently ordered by customers working in sub-sea and highway maintenance.  In this connection, bearing in mind that the company is new to CNC, Hurco’s telephone back-up has been very helpful when the occasional programming problem has been encountered.

     

    The decision to opt for Hurco machines hinged on the capability of the controls, coupled with the high residual value of the equipment, as confirmed by the firm that provided the finance, Hitachi Capital.  Martin Sanderson intends to keep the CNC lathes and machining centres for five years before part exchanging what will be relatively lightly used machines for new models.  On that basis, he will enjoy three and a half years of ‘free’ use of the lathes after they have been amortised and at least two years’ machining centre operation after the finance periods have ended.

     

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    DW Engineering - Standardised on Hurco Due to User Friendliness

    ​Since its formation in 2005, DW Engineering has expanded its Hamilton, South Lanarkshire contract machining business at an impressive rate. Its success i...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Energy Sector, Moldmaker, Medical, Conversational

    ​Since its formation in 2005, DW Engineering has expanded its Hamilton, South Lanarkshire contract machining business at an impressive rate. Its success is largely down to an ability and willingness to undertake anything from prototype work to large batch production for many different industries, and to offer machining expertise in a wide range of materials.

     

    A further reason for the company's rapid progress, according to owner, David Watt, is the exclusive use of Hurco vertical machining centres (VMCs) for prismatic metalcutting.  He said, "They allow fast, accurate shop floor programming as well as easy import of externally prepared data.  "The machines have been central to our ability to offer top quality work, quick turnaround and attractive prices.  "As a result, we gain most new business through recommendations from existing customers."

    Main sectors serviced are gas sensing, medical, aerospace (2nd tier supply) and oil/gas, for which injection moulds are machined for producing plastic components. The variety of materials machined is vast. Metals include stainless and mild steels, titanium, copper, bronze, brass and aluminium.
     
    In addition, a broad spectrum of plastics is cut, including PTFE, PEEK, Delrin, all grades of nylon and glass filled laminates. Considerable knowledge has been accrued in workholding, tooling and machining strategies for the often delicate materials.
     
    Accuracies routinely achieved are ± 0.1 mm but some gas sensing and aerospace parts have drawing tolerances down to ± 10 microns, which are easily held. The gas sensing components are used in anything from domestic boilers to laser-based drug testing equipment and airport scanners for explosives.
     
    Some contracts are exacting. A recent job won back from the Far East, due to poor accuracy machining carried out by a Chinese supplier, required an array of 750 aluminium gas sensor parts to be machined from aluminium plate. This particular job was supplied by the customer as a DXF file, which Hurco controls can import directly.  Each part has three fine-pitched, M3 x 0.25 mm tapped holes. The milling, drilling and tapping operations are carried out on a Hurco VM10  in a 7-hour cycle, after which the individual components are separated from the plate and transferred in batches to a Hurco VM1 for second and third operations. They involve clamping the parts 12 at a time in two fixtures for skimming and then drilling of a single cross hole in each component.
     
    DW Engineering also machines stainless steel screws and pins for this sensor assembly. Another contract for the same industry entails deep hole drilling two 300 mm long by 6.35 mm diameter holes through an aluminium billet. Each 47xD hole is machined in 12 minutes using a long-series carbide drill from ITC.
     
    Mr Watt's first experience of Hurco machines was operating a VMC and a knee mill in his father's subcontract business during the early 1990s. Both were equipped with the manufacturer's own Ultimax conversational control system, which is characterised by having two screens. One is used in touch mode for entering data via the drop-down menu buttons, while the other displays a graphic of the part as it is created, allowing most programming errors to be spotted immediately.
     
    It was this early exposure to the user-friendliness and power of the CNC system that encouraged Mr Watts to standardise on Hurco VMCs when he started his own company. First on-site were a BMC2416 VMC with nominal half-metre-cube capacity and two Hawk 5M mills. The VM1 with 4th axis was installed mid 2009, followed by the VM10 a year later.
     
    By this time, the control had become even more powerful due to the introduction of considerably expanded functionality and the adoption of the Windows operating system. The so-called WinMax software suite contains a feature called Swept Surface that is particularly useful to DW Engineering. It allows complex mould tool machining cycles with advanced cutting strategies to be generated in one conversational data block by sweeping a 2D surface over a contour.
     
    "It is unbelievably quick," confirmed Mr Watt, "and the continuous toolpath generates a very smooth surface finish."
    The facility is ideal for DW Engineering, as lately mouldmaking has increased to account for some 15 per cent of turnover, principally for a company in Aberdeen that supplies cable joints used on subsea control pods and camera mounts.  Each half of the aluminium injection mould spends two to three hours on one of the Hurcos, as very small step-overs are used when programming the ball nose milling cutters to perform the finishing passes. The end user's name and logo are sometimes engraved into the mould surface during the cycle using WinMax Lettering software.
     
    The quality of the moulds directly off the Hurcos is excellent, according to Mr Watt, who said that the mirror finish requires hardly any polishing. Each mould produces around 5,000-off plastic joints.  Programming is invariably done on the shop floor in WinMax due to its simplicity, although the subcontractor operates seats of AutoCAD and SolidWorks to handle customer files supplied in those native languages or in the IGES and STEP neutral data formats.

     

     

     

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    Bartlett Engineering LTD - Programming Is 20% Faster

    ​Whether it is a difficult-to-machine Hastelloy component for a petrochemical customer, or a heavy cast iron part for a full-size replica of a steam-drive...Read moreTags: Lathe, 3-Axis Mill, Energy Sector

    ​Whether it is a difficult-to-machine Hastelloy component for a petrochemical customer, or a heavy cast iron part for a full-size replica of a steam-driven crane engine, subcontractor Richard Scourfield and his wife, Kay, invariably produce them on their Hurco machining centre and lathes.  Their company, Bartlett Engineering, is in Tenby on the Pembrokeshire peninsula, half an hour’s drive from one of Europe’s largest oil and gas ports, Milford Haven, where two terminals are currently being built for liquefied natural gas.

     

    Petrochemical work accounts for 75 per cent of Bartlett’s turnover when the industry is prospering, as it is at present.  A lot of high-grade stainless steel is machined as well as a mix of other materials including boiler plate.  Some of the alloys are difficult to machine, not only the tough, nickel-based materials and stainless steel but also other ferrous alloys such as EN26W steel hardened to 350 BH (Brinell hardness).
     
    A component produced from the latter material in medium size batches on one of two Hurco TM10 lathes is a washer that requires a 30 mm diameter, indexable-insert drill rotating at 800 rpm to be fed at 80 m/min down the centre of the bar.  The steel is hardened to 380 BH in the process.  A Hurco sales engineer who happened to be present on one occasion when machining started jumped out of his chair when he heard the sound for the first time.  Even he had not seen such a rigorous machining operation carried out on one of their lathes.

    It was agreed during that visit that Bartlett is probably the heaviest user of Hurco machines in the whole of the UK.  The lathes are constantly pulling 80 per cent of available power and 22,000 components have been produced by the two TM10s in the last 12 months.
     
    One is a bar-fed model for producing components up to 75 mm diameter, while the other is used as a chucker for parts up to 254 mm (10 inches) diameter.  Installed in June 2007 and January 2008 respectively, they have an 18.7 kW spindle with a maximum torque of 312 Nm and through-coolant.
     
    Mr Scourfield, who served a 5-year apprenticeship at the former Central Electricity Generating Board, has been turning parts since he was 11 years old.  He says that Hurco’s CNC lathes are 12 times more productive than the manually operated lathes that Bartlett has used since the company started in 1966.  He has one word to describe the TM10s: “excellent”.
     
    The company moved into CNC as recently as 2005 by purchasing entry-level lathes and machining centres from another supplier.  It was a good introduction, but Mr Scourfield soon found that he needed higher power for the type of work that Bartlett traditionally receives.
     
    This was true not only of turning but also of prismatic machining, so a Hurco VMX60 vertical machining centre with 1524 x 660 x 610 mm travels and 24-position tool magazine was installed in September 2007.
     
    One of the first components to be machined was larger than the X-axis, so after suitable safety measures had been put in place, the side door was opened to allow the 2.5 metre long part to protrude so that it could be clamped on the table.  The job involved milling slots in the steel cross members, which were sawn from a 203 x 133 mm H-beam.  They formed part of a 20 metre underframe chassis that Bartlett was fabricating for the Isle of Wight Railway.

    Another early component that was longer than the VMX60’s width was a superheater element for a boiler.  Made from 220 mm diameter seamless carbon steel pipe, the two metre long element contained rows of holes that had been machined manually at Tenby for some years, production time being around 24 hours.  Cycle time on the Hurco is just nine hours.
     
    Half of the contracts received by Bartlett require reverse engineering, such as replacement parts for petrochemical plant that has been manufactured overseas.  Measurements taken from component samples are used to create drawings from which the CNC machines are programmed by manual data input on the shop floor.
    All of the subcontractor’s programming is done this way, as finding staff  in Pembrokeshire with G- and M-code skills is very difficult.
     
    What Mr Scourfield and his operators particularly like about the Hurco machines is the proprietary conversational control system.  He says it is easy to produce machining cycles using the Windows interface and touch screen commands, and as programming is so quick, it is ideal for Bartlett’s one-offs and small batch runs.  The company has no need at all for off-line programming.
     
    Whereas Windows software was available on Hurco lathes from the time that they were introduced, this was not the case with the machining centres.  Following the launch last year of the updated Windows-based software, Winmax, the control on Bartlett’s VMX60 has been upgraded, with significant benefits. According to Mr Scourfield, programming is simplified and 20 per cent quicker using the Windows interface, and 3D colour graphics are improved.  Advances in data smoothing have increased contouring speeds and there are many additional features that will be useful for future jobs, such as the ability to select the quality of surface finish.
     
    In June this year, a Hurco H320 – the largest in the company’s range of rotary tables – was added to the VMX60.  Conversational 4th-axis programming is standard on all WinMax controls, meaning that Bartlett was able to start programming rotary parts immediately, with only a couple of hours’ additional instruction.
     
    Mr Scourfield concluded, “We pride ourselves on machining parts that no-one else can or wants to produce, but we are only able to do that if our machines are of top quality and back-up is reliable."
     
    “Our location in west Wales is perfect for ports and refineries, but relatively inaccessible for machine tool vendors.  When we installed the first Hurco lathe, we were promised prompt service and that is exactly what we have received on the few occasions we have needed to call the supplier out.”

     

  • 5-Axis CNC - Swivel Head

    NuCon - Rigid Machine + Phenomenal Service Network

    The people at NuCon Corporation are experts when it comes to impellers. More specifically, they are experts in the manufacturing of radial and axial compr...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, NC, Great Service, Energy Sector, Aerospace

    The people at NuCon Corporation are experts when it comes to impellers. More specifically, they are experts in the manufacturing of radial and axial compressors, pumps and turbines, shrouded impellers, expanders, diffusers, and jet engine cases. They’re also experts in 5-axis machining processes used to manufacture those impellers and the aforementioned parts.


    Since 1973, NuCon Corporation has used their proprietary Impeller Machining System to machine thousands of configurations as small as 5 mm in diameter up to 73 inches in diameter. The majority of their products are used for marine propulsion and pumps, industrial compressors, and power generation, but they also machine parts for aircraft and rocket engines. NuCon primarily machines stainless steel, but they have experience machining a variety of materials including aluminum, titanium, exotics, and plastics. They can do any blade configuration a customer needs including straight line element, arbitrary blade shape, blisk, an open or shrouded impeller, and an open or closed turbine. Different blade shapes within a single stator/rotor can be accommodated.


    NuCon primarily relies on 15 vintage Sundstrand 5-axis machining centers at their 35,000-square-foot facility in Livonia, Michigan to manufacture these complex blade configurations for customers around the world. In fact, there are only a handful of companies capable of serving this niche market.  The NuCon crew has upgraded, retrofitted, and refurbished the massive Sundstrand machining centers so they can handle large parts that vary in complexity and weight, with some blanks weighing as much as 11 tons.


    Co-owner David Bernhardt says he started shopping for a smaller 5-axis machining center because it didn’t make sense to tie up a large Sundstrand for smaller parts that were up to 22 inches in diameter. While he considered other brands of 5-axis machines, Bernhardt says a demonstration at Hurco’s technology center in Indianapolis sealed the deal and NuCon purchased two VMX42SR machines. “The VMX42SR’s table had the capacity to handle the weight of stainless steel, which is important because that’s the material we use the most,” explains Bernhardt.  The VMX42SR’s C-Axis table with a 24-inch diameter can handle up to 1,100 lbs and the machining center is designed with a B-axis swivel head and C-axis rotary table that lets the tool access hard to reach areas faster. The tilting head design is perfect for the swept surfaces and complex contours NuCon routinely machines. Other advantages of the Hurco VMX42SR include 600-block look ahead, up to 600 ipm programmable feed rate, and processing speed up to 2,277 bps.


    Hurco was especially honored that NuCon chose Hurco for its 5-axis machining needs of smaller parts considering the collective expertise of the owners and the exacting standards they demand. NuCon owners David Bernhardt and David Stormont know machine tools inside and out: literally. They were machine tool designers in the 60s at the Buhr Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a company well known for developing machine tools designed specifically for the automotive industry.  Because of the collective expertise of Bernhardt and Stormont, NuCon has successfully developed their proprietary Impellar Manufacturing Software, designed the spindle head for their rotary head machines, and created their own PC-based controllers. They have achieved accreditation for numerous quality programs and implemented verification and inspection programs throughout their operation.

    Bernhardt says he is enamored with the motion control on the Hurco and both VMX42SRs have performed perfectly. Beyond the machine, Bernhardt says the phenomenal service network Hurco has established is probably the best he’s seen in his career. “It’s really something you should promote. The knowledge and customer support is outstanding. I even sold a machine to a fellow down the road. He asked me about our Hurcos and I told him about the phenomenal service network you have and the outstanding performance of our machines. This is still an industry that relies on word-of-mouth, which means a company’s reputation for how they treat customers after they have bought the machine is important,” explains Bernhardt.

     

    While Hurco machine tools are often known for their intuitive conversational programming, NuCon uses the NC side of the control exclusively. The integrated Hurco control powered by WinMax includes both conversational and NC programming methods with ISNC and NC Productivity Packages available for enhanced performance. With an enhanced NC interpreter, the recently released WinMax version 8 (WinMax8) is compatible with more CAD/CAM programs than ever. Other additions to the NC side of the control include Tool Review, Transform Plane, Rotary Tangential Velocity Control, Automatic Safe Repositioning, Recovery Restart, and Cylindrical Wrap.

    “It really says a lot for us to go to another machine with an alien control when all of the Sundstrands and turning systems we have use the control system we developed. The integration has been seamless and all of the operators picked up the Hurco control quickly,” says Bernhardt.

    NuCon also invests in other technology to enhance efficiency, minimize waste, and maintain outstanding quality. Bernhardt says software packages from OpenMind and Predator are useful to his operation because they analyze part programs to achieve maximum machining efficiency. 


    Bernhardt attributes his company’s success to great customers, great employees, and the drive to continually find ways to increase efficiency while maintaining the highest quality. “The core of our manufacturing philosophy at NuCon has always been to satisfy our customers. The job isn’t finished until the customer requirements are met. We believe in continual process improvement. You always need to look for ways to work smarter even while you’re working harder,” says Bernhardt.


    For NuCon, purchasing the Hurco VMX42SRs helped the company work smarter for smaller 5-axis parts.

    NuCon
    34100 Industrial Road
    Livonia, MI 48150
    734.525.0770
    www.nuconcorp.com

    Hurco Companies, Inc.
    One Technology Way
    Indianapolis, IN 46268
    800.634.2416
    www.hurco.com