Matt Smith, owner of The Precision Edge Machine, needed a mill that he could learn to program quickly because he specializes in high tolerance, low-volume parts for medical devices, the aerospace industry, and power sports. Additionally, he manufactures custom wheels and snowmobile parts from his Zimmerman, Minnesota shop, which is about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
From Turning to Milling
“When I started The Precision Edge, it was a turning-only shop. I bought a 1993 KM3P CNC Knee Mill to do secondary milling operations on the turned parts, but I was amazed at how capable a machine of that size was and how easy it was to program. A year later, business was really beginning to take off. My customers were impressed with the milled parts and orders for 50 or more parts kept coming in. That was a problem. The KM3 didn’t have a tool changer. I was the tool changer. Purchasing a CNC mill was a huge decision, but I knew it was time to take the leap,” explains Smith.
During the decision-making process, Smith knew he needed an accurate machine that was reliable and would last. He also knew he needed conversational programming that was intuitive and easy to learn.
“I didn’t want to deal with the expense and maintenance costs of a CAM package. For me, the Hurco conversational control was the perfect solution because I was a lathe guy,” says Smith.
His first CNC mill was the Hurco VM10 and he says he never looked back.“The Hurco control was really easy to learn. I pretty much taught myself. A former co-worker came to the shop for about two hours and I was able to figure out everything else as I went along…the added speed and capacity of the VM10 absolutely sky-rocketed sales. Sales increased so much that I had to move to a bigger building six months later. I was able to hire a full-time employee and bought two used turning centers one month after moving in—all because the VM10 was so efficient!” says Smith.
Smith says about eight months later, he realized he needed to add more CNC milling capacity because the VM10 was so backlogged with work.
Shop's Growth Leads to a Second Hurco
“The decision to buy another Hurco was a no brainer. The employee that I had hired eight months prior had no previous CNC programming experience. In eight months he learned how to program, set up and run jobs with little supervision. That is a testament to the power of the WinMax control!”
This time Matt bought a VM20 with a H160 4th axis. The VM20 was the perfect size machine eliminates the need to fixture parts for complicated side profile machining,” explains Smith.
The Most Valuable Control Features for Matt's Shop: Hurco DXF and the Advanced Verification Graphics
The two features Smith has found to be the most useful are DXF Transfer and the Solid Model Verifications Graphics. Hurco’s DXF Transfer feature lets Matt import part geometry from the dxf file directly to control. While other controls have similar features, Hurco’s DXF Transfer has an easy programming interface that allows you to edit DXF geometry, automatically chain contours, and select a group of hole operations based on the hole diameter. It also handles all 2D geometries on each plane of the part and multiple part planes can be linked into a single program, which is extremely efficient for processing complex parts on compound rotary tables.
“Bar none the verification graphics has been the most valuable. That feature alone has saved us thousands of dollars because of sudden rapid moves, wrong tool paths, broken tools and scrap materials. If you fat fingered a button. You put negative instead of positive. In that graphics screen you can see clearly if the part looks like it’s supposed to,” explains Smith.
Smith’s five-year plan is to double his business each year. To do that he says he will focus on what has worked during the first five years: outstanding service, quality parts, and the right equipment.
“Hurco has been instrumental with the success of our business. I can say without any doubt that we would not be the shop we are today without the support of Hurco. As time goes on we will hopefully be able to replace our turning centers with Hurcos,” says Smith.
In addition to relying on Hurco technology for fast turnaround of small batch part production, Smith will continue to run a customer-centric business. “I believe my customers’ needs are of the utmost importance. I take pride in every finished part we make. I really focus on providing customers with fast, courteous service, quality parts, and on-time delivery. So far, that formula has given me a lot of repeat business and referrals.”
Matt's Shop was featured in Modern Machine Shop magazine.To read the article, click this link
The Precision Edge Machine
25730 7th Street West, Suite 1
Zimmerman, MN 55398
Lou Ferriero was working in a plastics vacuum forming house when he identified a market that wasn’t being served. When he started PlasTech Machining and Fabrication Inc., he had one employee (himself) and one manual machine. Today, PlasTech has nine employees, six vertical machining centers, one 5 axis machining center, three turning centers, and Ferriero is thinking about upgrading to a multi-tasking turning center with live tooling and a sub-spindle.
With more than 35 years of experience in the machining and fabrication of plastics, Ferriero is proud that 80 percent of PlasTech’s business is from repeat customers. Approximately 50% of his business is devoted to medical equipment.
“We focus on high quality and precision. We don’t waste time trying to be the cheapest machine shop out there. Our prices are usually in the middle of the road compared to our competitors. We are the best at what we do and pride ourselves on delivering quality parts on time.” It appears PlasTech’s focus on quality versus price is working. According to Ferriero, companies that shipped jobs overseas for cheaper rates have started bringing the business back to PlasTech. “We lost jobs to overseas suppliers about five years ago and most of that work has come back,” said Ferriero.
A big part of PlasTech’s success is due to Ferriero’s commitment to stay current with technology by investing in new equipment. As PlasTech has grown, so has his investment in Hurco machine tools and Hurco technology. His latest investment in a Hurco software feature called UltiMotion continues to provide benefits beyond Ferriero’s expectations. As an example, Ferriero cites a part used for head restraints on hospital beds. “When we machined the parts on our RoboDrill, it took 30 minutes per part. On our Hurco with UltiMotion, it takes 20 minutes and the surface finish quality improved significantly,” says Ferrierro.
UltiMotion is able to simultaneously decrease cycle time and increase surface finish quality due to the underlying motion control algorithm Hurco developed that uses software-based motion instead of conventional hardware-based motion. UltiMotion software has rapid cornering capabilities that allow the spindle to travel through corners at high speed with negligible deviation without overshooting or stopping. Therefore, cycle time is significantly reduced when machining parts with complex geometries and/or repetitive tasks, such as drilling and tapping. Customers with UltiMotion also see improvement in surface finish because UltiMotion minimizes vibration, which results in smoother motion overall.
Flexible Control that Supports NC and Conversational
While PlasTech finds the conversational programming of the integrated Hurco control extremely useful to quickly make a fixture, Ferriero says he uses the NC side of the control for all of his jobs. Keeping his CAM system current is another technology investment that Ferriero continually makes to keep his company up to speed. PlasTech uses Mastercam X5 Cad /Cam software with Mill Level 3 and solids, Mastercam Lathe, verification software, Solidworks, and E2 Shop Systems for shop control.
The Power of Five
Like many prudent job shop owners, Ferriero’s latest machining center investment was a Hurco VM10U 5-axis machining center instead of a traditional 3-axis machine. The VM10U is part of the integrated trunnion style 5-axis machines from Hurco. With X/Y/Z travels of 21x16x19 and a 20-station ATC, the VM10U is one of the highest value 5-axis machines on the market.
Ferriero bought the VM10U to cut down on setups and has realized numerous productivity benefits. "The Hurco VM10U has exceeded our expectations. It has cut down on cost, time, labor and material," said Ferriero.
He cited a specific example for an article that appeared in Manufacturing News. The job entailed the manufacture of plastic components for prototype parts for de-icing the C-130 aircraft. "Without the VM10U 5-axis machine this would have been nearly impossible to get done on time for our customer," said Ferriero. "After offline programming, the setup time on the machine was done in a few hours. The part surface quality and time comparison was much better than expected. It would have been a minimum of 2 days just to make fixtures to machine these parts on a 3-axis machine."
Beyond the technology, beyond the equipment, Ferriero says he continues to invest in Hurco machining centers because of the high quality service he gets from Hurco and Hurco’s distributor, Brooks Associates. Says Ferriero, “The service we get from Hurco and Brooks is second to none. They listen and they are responsive. They understand that your machines are your business.”
Click this link to read the article about PlasTech that appeared in Manufacturing News.
During the last 30 years, Injection Mold, Inc. (North Vernon, Indiana) has grown from a small garage shop dedicated to producing lens molds for the automotive industry to a full-service shop that that specializes in Rapid Prototyping (RP) molds for multiple industries, such as medical, electronics, safety, baby products, appliance, and plumbing. A desire to reduce set-up times and increase accuracy led the company to upgrade from three-axis to five-axis machines.
According to General Manager Jason Vawter, Injection Mold has a stellar reputation when it comes to speed. “Customers call us immediately when they need something quick, without even considering their other suppliers, because we are the quickest," he says. This need for speed led Injection Mold to consider upgrading from three-axis to five-axis technology. “A lot of our RP work involves multiple setups on three-axis machines, and with the short deliveries we do, we needed to find a way to speed up our times,” Vawter explains. “Using five-axis technology would allow us to eliminate a lot of set-ups.”Vawter looked at a number of different machines, but all roads led to Hurco. “One of the reasons we went with Hurco is that they are right down the road from us,” he says. “We also owned Hurcos in the past and have been very happy with them. We found that the VMX30U was exactly what we were looking for.” Hurco decided to make 5-Axis a priority 10 years ago and has dedicated resources to the development of features that make the transition easy for 3-axis shops. Hurco even started a website devoted to five-axis education (www.FiveAxisMachining.com) that includes a dedicated telephone number and email that goes directly to Hurco Applications Engineers with expertise in 5-axis/5-sided. The VMX30U that Injection Mold purchased is one of 11 Hurco 5-Axis machining centers that are the result of Hurco’s focus on 5-axis. While the transition from 3-axis machining to 5-axis can be intimidating, most machinists grasp the concept fairly quickly and continue to realize additional benefits the more they use the machine. “Five-axis was a brand new area for us,” Vawter recalls. “Since we have always had three-axis, we grew accustomed to working in three planes. Then, all of a sudden, there were five.” While he says it took the employees several months to get completely comfortable with the machine, Hurco was always readily available to field questions.Multiple AdvantagesInjection Mold bought the machine solely for the purpose of eliminating multiple set-ups, but Vawter notes the more they use the VMX30U, the more they find they can do with it. “For example, we had some slides (multicavity tool with multiple slides per cavity) and they have angled holes through them on 20 degrees,” he elaborates. “There’s a 25-degree angle on the back with tapped holes. To machine these in the past, we would have one set-up for each operation on a 3-axis mill and it would have taken probably five set-ups with an hour to an hour-and-a-half on each block. When we do it on the VMX30U, it is one set-up and 20 minutes in each piece.”Another payoff is higher accuracy. “Each time you have to take the piece out of the machine to put in another setup, you take a chance of everything not blending out,” he explains. “Now we just pick it up one time and we will cut from the top and the machine will rotate and cut the piece from the side—so accuracy is better. We maintain .005 micron accuracy on our work.” Vawter is very pleased with the VMX30U. “Once we made the leap, we continue to find more benefits—things we didn’t even consider are now possible. We have had it a little over a year and we feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface of what we can utilize it for. We will definitely consider another five-axis purchase by year’s end.”Injection Mold, Inc. / (812) email@example.com / injectiomoldinc.com
Click this link to read the article about Injection Mold as it appeared in MoldMaking Technology Magazine
Once the beta test began at M-Tech Lab in Indianapolis for a new Hurco software feature, cycle time was cut by 30% and machine jerk was virtually eliminated. President and M-Tech founder Tom Miller said he seeks speed versus accuracy for the type of machining M-Tech does. “We are builders of custom orthotics...We focus on throughput and speed. With UltiMotion we’re seeing 30-35% faster throughput,” said Miller.
The majority of the orthotics M-Tech machines are custom designed to a person’s foot, but all of them are elliptical in shape and have contours throughout. UltiMotion handles such complex geometry easily because the spindle can cut very fast in a smooth elliptical motion. The secret to UltiMotion is the advanced trajectory algorithm in the software that generates significantly faster yet smoother motion than conventional motions systems that rely on hardware. Controlling motion with software versus hardware is theoretically a simple idea, but development of UltiMotion was a complex and comprehensive project with the best software engineers in the world pushing the envelope of motion control. The advancements in motion control are so significant that Hurco was awarded a patent for UltiMotion with several other patents pending.
Tom MillerM Tech Lab8653 Bash StreetIndianapolis, IN 46256www.mtechlab.com
Founded in 1987 as a mouldmaker and subcontract machinist specialising in wire and spark erosion and manual milling, RST Engineering, Leighton Buzzard, installed a Hurco Hawk 30 CNC mill in 1998 to speed electrode production and other prismatic machining jobs. It was not until 2007 that the company traded in the Hawk for a 3-axis Hurco VM2 vertical machining centre, taking advantage of automatic tool change to fulfill contracts more economically for increasingly complex aerospace, medical and motorsport components. Two years later, owner Jason Taylor and his team progressed to 5-axis machining on a Hurco VMX30U machining centre, with very positive results. It was bought initially to reduce production costs when the manufacture of prototype housings for aircraft on the VM2 moved to large batch runs.
When BAW Precision Engineering Ltd emerged from the global downturn under new ownership in July 2010, the primary aim for the new directors of the Swansea Valley company was to build the order book and re-establish the subcontractors’ prestigious reputation.
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in research and development activity at medical device manufacturing facilities around Galway, while the same area in the west of Ireland has also seen a surge in the growth of companies in the biosciences field.
Two Hurco VMX30 vertical machining centres (VMCs) have been added to the subcontract machine shop of Schivo Group in Waterford, on the south coast of Ireland. Compared with a VMX42 installed in 2004, the latest machines are 50 percent more productive, due entirely to the increased functionality of Hurco's conversational programming software, WinMax, incorporated into the control systems.
Galway-based subcontract machinist, Dawnlough, which specialises in manufacturing components for the medical industry, has bought equipment to the value of £1.5 million since 2005 to expand its design, production and inspection capabilities. The purchases include eight vertical machining centres (VMCs) and a driven-tool lathe from Hurco, supplied through local sales representative in Ireland, Michael Gannon.
Cheltenham subcontractor, Pharma Tooling, (www.pharmatooling.co.uk) which until the middle of 2007 could prismatically machine parts up to 750 mm long in one clamping, has more than doubled its maximum component size capacity with the purchase of a new Hurco VMX64 vertical machining centre. It was supplied with a rotary turntable and high-pressure coolant delivery through the BT40 spindle.
A steady increase in subcontract work for the medical industry coupled with the trend towards greater component complexity has prompted Caragh Tool & Die to invest in a fifth Hurco machining centre with 5-axis capability. Off-line programming has also been installed to simulate the proprietary Ultimax twin-screen control system fitted to all of the machines.
Since its formation in 2005, DW Engineering has expanded its Hamilton, South Lanarkshire contract machining business at an impressive rate. Its success is largely down to an ability and willingness to undertake anything from prototype work to large batch production for many different industries, and to offer machining expertise in a wide range of materials.
Seven vertical machining centres from the same supplier, HURCO Europe, have been installed during the past 10 years in the Witney, Oxfordshire works of Acrona Engineering, including most recently a 5-axis VM10U with WinMax control purchased at the beginning of 2010.
Bryco Machine is a 20-year-old modern-day shop specializing in CNC turning. They've built a reputation as a world-class supplier of precision turned parts for industries including electronics, hydraulics, wireless communications, medical & dental, fluid powers, fiber optics and defense.
In 2004, Bryon Bettinardi, owner of Bryco, decided he needed to expand his capabilities. More and more of his customers were insisting on short run and prototype work in conjunction with the high volume work he was already doing. Trying to do low volumes on his production machines with four to eight hour setup times was not productive but he didn't want to lose these opportunities.