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  • Mast part Machines on a Hurco

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Compared to Mast’s outdated equipment, the Hurco machines are almost twice as fast, according to Chouinard.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

     

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

     

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

     

    Read the full story from Cutting Tool Engineering here


    Watch The Video From IMTS 2016

  • A Hurco VMX 42i CNC mill, shown here profile-machining a cavity made of hardened H-13, enables Concept Molds to machine a block square in a single setup instead of surface-grinding it. Images courtesy of Concept Molds Inc.

    Hurco Conversational CNC Machine Helps Moldmaker Bridge the Skills Gap

    Concept Molds in Michigan says the investment in the Hurco VMX42i CNC machine has lowered their costs anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000 per mold. The main ad...Read moreTags: Moldmaker

    Concept Molds in Michigan says the investment in the Hurco VMX42i CNC machine has lowered their costs anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000 per mold. The main advantage of the Hurco CNC machines has been the flexibility of the control that features intuitive conversational programming, but also has industry standard NC. “These are very charismatic machines,” says Concept Mold’s General Manager. Favorite features include the high accuracy of the Hurco CNC machines, the repeatability, ease of programming with conversational, and the interrupt cycle.

     

    What can a company do when it has a healthy flow of work running through its facility but a lack of skilled workers to complete it all in an efficient, cost-effective manner? This moldmaker found the solution in two Hurco VMX 42i CNC mills with conversational programming capability.

     

    Read the full article Case Study From: MoldMaking Technology, Cynthia Kustush , Senior Editor from MoldMaking Technology

    Images courtesy of Concept Molds Inc.

  • RP Tooling interior picture

    RP Tooling Reduces Cycle Time with Hurco

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

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


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


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


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


    Read the full article.​

    Image copyright © Mercator Media 2015

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

     

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



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    Wepco Plastics - Technology Investment Pays Off for Moldmaker

    ​Established in 1985, Wepco Plastics specializes in short-run prototype injection molds in aluminum and steel. The company has grown to more than 45 emplo...Read moreTags: UltiMotion, 3-Axis Mill, Moldmaker

    ​Established in 1985, Wepco Plastics specializes in short-run prototype injection molds in aluminum and steel. The company has grown to more than 45 employees who work at the 10,000 square foot facility in Middlefield, Conn. In the fall of 2008, Wally and David Parmelee (Wepco owners) found themselves at a cross roads in terms of milling capacity for their tool room. Should they continue with their current milling technology (a known quantity with zero learning curve) or invest in the future by purchasing a higher performance machine? They knew this decision would impact their tooling and in-house molding business for many years to come. Introducing new technology to a shop always presents a learning curve, which is an inherent risk, but new technology can also promote growth. For Wepco, the reward of reduced cycle times and increased productivity, which enabled them to book more jobs per week without sacrificing quality, was worth the risk.

    Pre-Purchase: Identify What Matters
    When Wally and David decided to break stride with their current equipment and purchased a Hurco VMX30 machining center from Brooks Associates (Norwell, MA), four factors  were paramount to their decision-making process: a control with an open architecture, mechanical design, local service, and customer references.

    1. The Control: open architecture vs. closed architecture
      As Wally and David evaluated control technology, they realized the importance of investing in a control with an open-architecture because it is more likely to be compatible with future technology. The integrated Hurco control has a Windows®-based operating system, which means they can easily add automation products in the future if their business warrants it. Additionally, Wally and David understood the value of an integrated control that is specifically designed to work with the machine tool’s motion control system. Not only does it enhance performance, but it makes service one stop. Control features with measurable benefits, such as Hurco’s proprietary advanced motion control, were also important to Wally and David.
    2. Mechanical Design
      The mechanical design is obviously important to any shop owner. Standard specifications, such as travels and rapids, are easy to compare from one machine tool builder to the next, but sometimes it’s harder to evaluate “what’s under the hood.” With the Hurco VMX30, Wally and David felt the design details Hurco incorporates into their manufacturing process promote rigidity and reliability. The linear rails are larger, and strategically spaced for increased strength. Additionally, Hurco wedge locks the rails to a machined shoulder, which makes the machine more robust, instead of simply mounting them to a single surface. The double-nut, pre-tensioned ball screws are anchored at both ends for increased accuracy and rigidity. A dual-wound 12K spindle delivers the cutting power they need.
    3. Service
      Local support and service is important for any purchase, but it’s critical to have reliable service people you trust when you have a small business. Brooks Associates has been a Hurco distributor for more than 30 years and they have thousands of units throughout New England. The peace of mind that comes with quick and affordable service they can get from Brooks was important to Wepco.
    4. References. Marketing is always important to build/maintain awareness, but nothing can replace first-hand positive feedback from actual customers. Since Brooks has so much experience in the region, they have numerous customers who are happy to talk to other machinists about their experiences.

     

    Can you measure the benefits of new technology?
    The decision to move forward and invest in new technology proved advantageous for Wepco.  The Hurco VMX30 delivered superior performance and part quality in a fraction of normal cycle times. Wepco primarily focuses on aluminum molds for prototype and short-run batches. The dual-wound 12,000 rpm spindle of the Hurco VMX30, coupled with Hurco’s new motion control system called UltiMotion™, drastically re¬duced total part cycle time by as much as 200-300% in some cases with no loss of accuracy or finish. Before UltiMotion™ Wepco would finish machine at 40 ipm. With UltiMotion, they are able finish machine at rates from 125-350 ipm!

    According to David, he believes productivity will continue to improve, “We have really started to focus on pushing the machines to see what they can really do, and I have to tell you that every day we do something that just blows us away.  With the UltiMotion, along with tweaking our post to make segmented or linear moves, we are achieving extremely high feed rates up to 800 ipm.  As an example, we had a cut that would have been at least 100 hours long on our old machines that we did in 30 hours and I believe that we could even cut that in half.  We finish cut the cores with a .0469 end mill ground back .500 at 100 ipm.  We could have easily doubled the speed and got the same results.  And I don't have to polish the mold! The finish is that good!”


    These productivity gains yield increased profit margin for existing jobs and additional capacity due to increased throughput. For example, a 30% productivity gain turns a 40 hour work week into at 52 hour week in terms of throughput with zero overtime for labor and zero increase in debt service on the equipment.

    The VMX30 also offered opportunities for Wepco to expand its capabilities. For example, due to the rigidity and spindle speed of the VMX30, they can do hard milling on inserts. Wepco routinely machines 58 Rc mold inserts made from S7 tool steel. Parts come off the machine ready for assembly in the mold. Success with this type of material is due to advanced cutter technology and the Hurco UltiMotion™ software, which optimizes machin¬ing rpm and feed rates based on part geometry. UltiMotion™ routinely reduces cycle times on 3D programs by as much as 40%.

    How UltiMotion Works
    According to Hurco engineers, this new technology from Hurco utilizes the power of software for motion control instead of relying on hardware. The secret to UltiMotion is the advanced trajectory algorithm in the software that generates significantly faster yet smoother motion than any hardware only solution. While there are numerous technical details, some of the straightforward results include cornering velocity that is 2.5 times faster than conventional motion, 50% less machine jerk, and a patented dynamic variable lookahead mechanism that doesn’t require a fixed number of blocks. Instead, the control evaluates the geometry and motion profile and makes sure there is enough lookahead information to make optimized maneuvers. This lookahead mechanism of UltiMotion is another reason why better surface quality can be obtained in a shorter period of time.


    Going Forward
    Wepco was so encouraged by the productivity of the VMX30 that they added a second Hurco VMC shortly thereafter (Hurco VMX24). Both machines have proven to be reliable sources of production for Wepco’s tool room as they continue to grow. Wepco attributes this growth attention to detail and quality, as well as customer satisfaction by diligently following specifications, meeting delivery dates and offering competitive prices on short run injection molding.

    WEPCO Plastics, Inc.
    27 Industrial Park Access Rd.
    P.O.Box 182
    Middlefield, Connecticut 06455
    (860) 349-3407
    www.wepcoplastics.com
    info@wepcoplastics.com

    Brook Associates
    300 Longwater Dr.
    Norwell, Massachusetts 02061
    (781) 871-3400
    Brooks Associates
    sales@brooksmachinery.com

    Hurco Companies, Inc.
    1.800.634.2416
    One Technology Way
    P.O. Box 68180
    Indianapolis, IN 46268
    1.800.634.2416
    www.hurco.com
    info@hurco.com

    Windows® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.
    UltiMotionTM is a trademark of Hurco Companies, Inc.

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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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    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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    Tool and Gauge Invests in Hurco to Compete in Global Marketplace

    ​In the last three years, the number of Hurco vertical machining centres on the shop floor at Tool & Gauge, Co Sligo, Ireland, has trebled to six, and...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, NC, Moldmaker

    ​In the last three years, the number of Hurco vertical machining centres on the shop floor at Tool & Gauge, Co Sligo, Ireland, has trebled to six, and the mould- and tool-maker has also invested in computer-aided engineering software from Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks and Delcam.

     

    The company specialises in providing customers with a high level of consultancy at the early development stages of a product, followed by project management from design through optimisation and manufacture of the mould to tryout runs on seven machines rated up to 400 tonnes.  Plastic injection moulds are the core business, although some thermoset, compression, rubber and blow mould tooling is also produced.
     
    Managing director, John O'Donnell explained, "We started using Hurco machines back in 1988, as conversational programming at the twin-screen Hurco control was intuitive and quick, giving us good 2.5D modelling capability.  So we avoided the difficulty of using G-codes, as on other machining centres.
     
    "Today we program almost exclusively by downloading files from our CAD/CAM systems, as parts have become full 3D and much more complicated.  However, the latest Hurco CNCs have more powerful processing capability, giving us the flexibility to program simple to relatively complex 3D jobs, if necessary, from a drawing on the shop floor."
     
    Driving the recent investment is fierce competition from overseas toolmakers, particularly in China.  Mr O'Donnell says that three Chinese toolmakers a week send him e-mails offering their services, so they must be blanket-mailing all of his competitors and customers in the UK as well. 

    Tool brokers are also calling on customers regularly to offer their services.  Portuguese toolmakers are around, but Tool & Gauge does not find difficulty competing with them on price.  There is not so much direct toolmaking competition from Eastern Europe at present, although some UK firms are relocating out there and sourcing their moulds locally.
     
    "Where companies like ours score is in the level of service we can provide, not just in design and consultancy, but also in speed of order turnaround," continued Mr O'Donnell.  "Whereas five years ago we used to quote 14 - 16 weeks delivery, this has fallen to 8 - 10 weeks now."
     
    "Overseas toolmakers, especially those in China, find it almost impossible to compete with those time frames; and if things go wrong or design alterations are needed, deliveries take much longer.  There is evidence that some work is coming back from the Far East due to long lead times and quality issues."
     
    Prices have to be competitive, however.  Tool & Gauge quotes the same price for a job today as it did five years ago, yet material costs and overheads have risen considerably, so charge-out rates have dropped in real terms.  To make a profit as well as to meet tight delivery deadlines, it is essential to invest in modern production plant, hence the installation of two Hurco VMX42s, a VMX64 and a VMX42 over the past three years, which joined a VMX30 and an older BMC2416.
     
    Labour costs also have to watched carefully over the two- and sometimes three-shift operation.  Two operators look after all six Hurco machines, even though some cycle times are as short as one hour; but this is offset by other jobs being on a machine for up to a week.
     
    Concluded Mr O'Donnell, "Price and delivery of Hurco machines are good and they do exactly what we need them to, reliably and efficiently.  To continue our push towards more complex, higher added-value contracts, we will probably invest in a 5-axis machine next."
     
    Established in 1956, Tool & Gauge (www.toolandgauge.ie) employs 50 people at its 3,500 sq ft factory in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.  There are over 45 metalcutting machine tools on the shop floor including machining centres, lathes, wire and sinking EDM, and both surface and cylindrical grinders.  Markets served stretch from Ireland and Britain to mainland Europe and the USA.

     

     

     

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    Wye Valley Precision Engineering - Faster Turnaround for Rubber Mould Tools

    ​Installation of a Hurco vertical machining centre (VMC) in the toolroom at the Ross-on-Wye factory of rubber mouldings manufacturer, Wye Valley Precision...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Conversational, NC, Moldmaker

    ​Installation of a Hurco vertical machining centre (VMC) in the toolroom at the Ross-on-Wye factory of rubber mouldings manufacturer, Wye Valley Precision Engineering, has resulted in much faster availability of mould tools compared with when the company was using a manual-tool-change CNC mill.  A typical middle plate in P20 tool steel is now programmed and machined in six hours, whereas the same job used to take a week.  Said machine operator, Matthew Griffiths, "Programming was very time-consuming using our previous machine because the control system did not accept the DXF file output from our CAD system.  So after a mould was designed, I had to program every feature manually at the control and the complexity of the tools meant that there was a risk of making errors, which were subsequently difficult to find and correct."This contrasts with the user friendliness of the Ultimax control fitted to the Hurco VMX-24 VMC, installed in April this year (2003).  Mr Griffiths advised that the twin-screen CNC system not only reads DXF files directly and automatically generates tool paths from them, but also has powerful on-board software to simplify creation of the entire part program.


    For example, a rubber mould might contain, say, 1500 holes in four blocks which used to take several hours to program.  Using the Ultimax control, it is simply necessary to program one block, highlight it on the right hand graphics screen, and then rotate and repeat it three times around the appropriate PCD.  It is then possible to input the commands for centre drill and drill for all holes at the same time, instead of individually.  Another feature is the unlimited number of islands that may be created within a pocket boundary (the previous maximum was 12) and the automatic, gouge-free machining.
     
    A further area of programming that is speeded is the generation of 3D parts from 2D contour profiles followed by automatic creation of roughing and finishing cycles after telling the control which tools to use.  This is a real benefit to Wye Valley Precision Engineering, as more and more it is being asked to design and produce 3D moulds for the manufacture of keypads, for example.
     
    "The Ultimax control is by far the best on the market for one-offs,” said Mr Griffiths.  “It is so quick to use that sometimes I have difficulty believing the program is right.  I have more confidence in this CNC system after one month than I had in the previous control after 10 years."  When the machine is cutting metal, various features within the control contribute further to faster mould production.  Conversation touch-probing of the tool allows periodic checking of the tip for wear, with the appropriate offsets sent automatically to the control.  Alternatively, if necessary, a command is sent to replace the cutter with a sister tool from the 24-station magazine.  Mr Griffiths also highlights the recovery/restart feature within Ultimax, whereby after the spindle has been stopped it is possible to resume cutting immediately at the same point, without having to cycle through from the beginning of the last whole program block.
     
    Certain design characteristics of the machine itself promote high productivity with minimal operator attendance.  Flood coolant is effective at washing swarf to the front of the machine, from where a spiral augur transfers chips into a bucket at the side.  It is not necessary to stop the machine to clear swarf from the working area.  Notable also is the high speed of the Hurco VMC compared with the previous CNC mill.  10,000 rpm is 2.5 times higher than the previously available spindle speed, and cutting feedrate is double at 2 m/min with the possibility of 8 m/min utilising new tooling currently under investigation.
     
    Paul Nelson, manufacturing director of family-owned Wye Valley Precision Engineering, was surprised at the variability of response from the eight machine tool vendors he contacted when he was researching the market.  One well known supplier had an old fashioned showroom, derided the competition's machines and failed to keep its website up to date.  Some had outdated looking machines and / or controls.  Others wanted to make an additional delivery charge to take account of the restricted height of the door at the Ross-on-Wye factory.  "In the end, Hurco was the obvious choice," said Mr Nelson.  "All the machines in the range are modern and good value for money, the Ultimax control is a clear advantage and the approach of the company was very positive and helpful.  We felt that it conducted its business in the same way that we do.”
     
    In conclusion, Mr Nelson confirmed that he had proceeded with updating his toolroom after the company had rejected the option of outsourcing the manufacture of mould tools.  "We like to be in charge of  our own destiny," he said, "and rapid availability of tools is important to us in order to ensure a prompt service to our customer's.  "We can turn round a rubber mould in one week, including design and manufacture, or perhaps in two weeks if the tool is particularly complex.  We could never match this by going to overseas suppliers.
     
    "In any case, the high quality and low price of foreign-sourced moulds appears to be a myth.  We had a tool made once in France which was very poor quality; and a number of Portuguese toolmakers sent us prices that were not far below those quoted by UK suppliers.  In the end, it made sense to keep this important function in-house."

     

     

     

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    Crossen Engineering Ltd - Toolmaker Expands into Aerospace Sector

    During 2011, 4,000 such seals will be produced in the press shop at Newtownards, which has 17 power presses rated from 35 to 500 tonnes force for subcontr...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Aerospace, Automotive, Moldmaker, NC, Conversational

    During 2011, 4,000 such seals will be produced in the press shop at Newtownards, which has 17 power presses rated from 35 to 500 tonnes force for subcontract production runs of progression and deep drawn components.

     

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

     

     

     

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    RST Engineering Ltd - Cycle Times Reduced by Two-Thirds

    ​Founded in 1987 as a mouldmaker and subcontract machinist specialising in wire and spark erosion and manual milling, RST Engineering, Leighton Buzzard, i...Read moreTags: 5-Axis, Moldmaker, Motorsports, Medical, Aerospace, 3-Axis Mill

    ​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.


    The circuit board housings are 200 mm square and have to be machined from aluminium billets on six sides to dimensional tolerances within 15 microns.  In the process, over 90 per cent of the material is removed.
     
    When the part was milled on the 3-axis machine, five sides were completed in eight to 10 hours, including repeated manual refixturing.  The part is now machined in around three hours on the 5-axis Hurco.  As only one additional set-up is needed for machining the sixth face, the component is produced in just two milling operations followed by sparking.

    The steel component in the foreground is a fixture that was machined on the VM2 to secure ball bearings for blind holes to be sparked. Commented Mr Taylor, “A really useful feature of the 5-axis VMX is that the aircraft housing and similar, relatively simple cube-type parts can be programmed at the machine on Hurco’s twin-screen Ultimax control.
     
    “This takes a fraction of the time that would be needed on our Vero VISI 3D CAD/CAM system, which is freed for more complex programming.  “A further benefit is that the setter-operator does not have to walk back to the office to edit a program to adjust a tool, for example – it can be easily done on the shop floor using the control’s WinMax software.   
      
    ”He is particularly impressed with the NC-Merge feature within WinMax, which allows complex parts of a program to be generated off-line using a CAD/CAM system and imported into the Ultimax control for the remainder to be completed, taking advantage of the best of both systems.
     
    There are occasions when this strategy allows a more efficient program to be written than would be possible using off-line CAD/CAM alone.  One recent example was a 3D part that needed holes drilled in it after rotation.  They would have had to be drilled straight to depth, whereas pecking cycles were easily added in WinMax.
     
    Other 5-axis jobs machined on the VMX30U include plastic clock parts and a wrist support plate in titanium, both of which required fully interpolative 5-axis machining.  Mr Taylor suggests that while this is useful, allowing RST to take on extra work that it could not have tackled before, the main benefit of 5-axis is to reduce set-ups when machining components on five or six sides.
     
    “Every time you want to mill a sharp corner in a pocket to replace a radius, or drill a hole at a compound angle, it would involve another set-up,” he said.  “This not only adds production cost and risks introducing accumulative errors, but is monotonous for our operators if there are, say, 50- or 100-off to produce.
     
    Automatic 5-axis positioning in-cycle avoids the potential problem of an operator’s attention wandering and the consequent risk of scrapped parts.”
     
    A good example of a contract where 5-axis benefits are considerable is the production of components for high-voltage electrical switchgear.  They were previously produced in three operations but are now machined in one hit on the VMX30U.  In August 2010, 25-off of each of 10 varieties were produced and the customer wants a further 175-off.  That will be 4,000 set-ups saved.
     
    In RST’s case, with its EDM specialism, the 5-axis Hurco machine is assisting in the production of copper electrodes, which are also becoming more complex.  Accuracy of ± 6 microns is easily held on the VMX30U, which Mr Taylor describes as rigid, reliable and repeatable.
     
    In summary, he used the familiar expression: ‘how did we do without 5-axis machining before’.  In his opinion, it is becoming essential to compete for the production of all but the simplest of parts.  These tend to be manufactured overseas now unless volumes are low, in which case there is little money to be made anyway.
     
    He finds that designers these days are constantly using the power of their modern CAD/CAM systems to push the barriers of component complexity, which again dictates a move to 5-axis machining.

     

    Mr Taylor also said that people using 3-axis machining centres should not be put off by thinking that 5-axis machining is too complex.  It took only two days’ training to become conversant with programming 5-sided milling and drilling routines on the Ultimax control.
     
     
     

     

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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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    A & M EDM - Hurco Purchase Spurs More Work

    ​2006 saw a rationalisation in the press tool making industry in the West Midlands, with dozens of firms going out of business, including some of the bigg...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Moldmaker

    ​2006 saw a rationalisation in the press tool making industry in the West Midlands, with dozens of firms going out of business, including some of the biggest names.  A similar shake-up in the plastic injection mouldmaking sector happened a few years ago.  These trends are mirrored around the UK as OEMs either relocate overseas or buy their tools from low-wage countries.

     

    One Birmingham company bucking the trend is A&M EDM.  It is one of the few electric discharge machining specialists in the UK that, working in partnership with other tool makers, helps to manufacture such a wide range of tools including single-stage press tools, progression tools, injection moulds, blow moulds, composite moulds and, increasingly, foundry patterns.  Set up in October 2002 by partners Mark Wingfield and Arthur Watts, the firm has invested over £1 million in shop floor plant, notably wire-cut, die-sink and EDM drilling machines from Sodick, and machining centres from Hurco.
     
    The customer base numbers more than 200, including all the remaining major press toolmakers in the West Midlands and many pressworkers, as well as automotive and motorsport companies, aerospace manufacturers and even universities.  Sixty per cent of turnover is derived from tool making, the remainder being general subcontract work.
    Said Mark, "It is sad to see such a significant reduction in our tool making industry, which has resulted from some UK suppliers trying to charge excessive rates and some buyers willing to sacrifice our indigenous manufacturing base by going overseas to extract every last bit of profit.  "However, the skills are still here in the UK and if you quote the right price and supply a top quality tool on time, the business is there to be won, especially if the tool is complex or needed quickly."
                                                                     
    The company's progress over the last four years is proof of that, and as there are fewer competitors around, its success is likely to continue.  A&M EDM is also helped by negative issues associated with putting work abroad.  For example at the time of interview, a tool produced in Estonia was having to be extensively reworked, as it had out-of-tolerance features and had not even been dowelled!  "That tool will end up costing the buyer more than having it made here," Mark wryly observed.
     
    Electric discharge machining is the mainstay of the firm's expertise and accounts for 80 per cent of value-added metalcutting.  Milling has been growing since mid 2004.  At that time, the copper and graphite die-sink electrodes were becoming more complex, necessitating either uneconomical wire-erosion or putting the work out to a subcontractor with 3D machining capability.
     
    Keen to keep electrode manufacture in-house to control lead-time, quality and cost, Mark decided to buy a vertical machining centre to produce the electrodes.  In addition, more and more customers were asking for a total package including sparked and wired tools plus machined plates, the latter needing a machining centre for their production.
     
    As he had worked very satisfactorily in the past with a combination of Sodick EDM machines and Hurco machining centres, Mark decided to go the same way again and bought a Hurco VM3 with 1,270 x 457 x 457 mm machining capacity.  When customers saw the new metalcutting facility, other work started to come in for it.

    Then A&M EDM invested in a large wire eroder with 1,100 x 700 mm cutting area, so a larger machining centre was needed to make the tool and die plates.  Furthermore, people were asking for larger, non tool-related prismatic parts to be machined and Mark was having to turn it down.  So in 2006, the company installed a larger Hurco VMX64 with a 1,625 x 864 x 762 mm machining envelope.
     
    Almost all jobs on both Hurcos are programmed quickly by manual data input at the controls on the shop floor, as components are generally not very complex.  Even some 3D cycles such as for machining electrodes are programmed on the Max and Ultimax CNC systems, these being proprietary controls fitted to the VM3 and VMX64 respectively.  A&M EDM's Camtek PEPS and Delcam Powershape CADCAM systems are reserved for programming the Sodick machines.
     
    Although parts produced on both of the machining centres are relatively simple, such as platework for the moulds and tools, total tolerance on relative bore positions, for example, can be as tight as 10 microns.  These are easily held on the Hurcos.  Jobs being produced on them when the machine shop was visited were part of a composite mould requiring 3D surface milling on the VM3; and mild steel rolling mill plates on the VMX64.
     
    The future for the company will be continued steady growth coupled with the pursuit of additional industry approvals and recognitions to add to the ISO 9000 and BS EN 9100 (aerospace) quality standards already held.  Early in 2007, Mark hopes to secure NADCAP accreditation for supplying the global aerospace industry.

     

    Furthermore, at one of A&M EDM's local customers – Burcas – there is an ongoing supply chain development programme, funded by the DTI manufacturing advisory service, MAS West Midlands.  Aimed at the aerospace, automotive and defence industries, the approach is based on TEC-Concepts, fusing best practices of Six Sigma, Kaizen Blitz and Lean Enterprise with sector-specific standards related to quality, the environment and health & safety.  The result will be recognition of high performing, integrated management systems throughout the Burcas supply chain, including of course at A&M EDM.

     

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    Xcentric Mold - Shop Chooses Hurco for Reliability and Overall Value

    ​"All in all, the Hurco was the best bang for the buck and has the least amount of downtimes over other machines."-Damon Weaver, Owner , Xcentri...Read moreTags: 3-Axis Mill, Moldmaker, NC

    "All in all, the Hurco was the best bang for the buck and has the least amount of downtimes over other machines."
    -
    Damon Weaver, Owner , Xcentric Mold & Engineering

    Watch the Xcentric Mold Video

    To keep your business competitive in the 21st century you need to be efficient, flexible and demonstrate a quality product. The Weaver brothers in Chesterfield, Michigan have built their business around those requirements. Hurco is proud to be their vertical machining center of choice. Brendan Weaver and Damon Weaver, owners of Xcentric Mold & Engineering, have defined efficiency by creating a process flow system that lets their employees run three to four machines at a time. “One guy can even run five,” boasts Damon Weaver. Xcentric's flexibility extends beyond the types of molds and parts they create. Xcentric is also flexible in the breadth and depth of services they provide.

    “We can turn it from concept to a finished part, and do everything in between,” said the Weavers. “We do part design, FDM rapid prototyping, prototype molds, bridge tooling, and do our own injection molding, all under one roof.” Xcentric's main focus is Fast and Accurate turn around prototype molds and parts with in a 5-16 day delivery to the customer. Xcentric has given new meaning to “fast and accurate turn around” in prototyping. The Weavers grew the business from their CAD and Prototype mold making expertise. “What sets us apart today is, we do what we say and say what we do. Customer service is key and we are proactive in the whole process.” Being proficient in solid modeling, we can propose changes to the customer's solid data, from any format and return the data via email. This service saves days off the build, as being part designers and mold makers we can prepare data for mold ability.

     

    Hurco Advantage

    Xcentric runs one shift, and routinely runs lights out operations to maximize efficiency. In addition to investing in process efficiency, quality certification (ISO 9001: 2000), and talented employees, Xcentric has invested in top-notch equipment. They have 13 CNC 
    vertical machining centers with 10 of them being Hurco models—two VMX24s, seven VMX42s, and a BMC4020. They also feature Roboshot and JSW, all electric molding machines, and their Engineering department features FDM rapid prototyping, Mold Flow analysis, and seven CAD/CAMseats.

    Xcentric utilizes aircraft grade aluminum to produce detail-oriented prototype plastic injection molds that require tight tolerances and longevity, usually up to 100,000 pieces or more. The sample of molds and parts displayed include a variety of consumer products and various automotive parts.One of the Weaver brothers' favorite masterpieces complements their interest in fishing. The Rapid Release Breakaway Rod Holders are proudly displayed on the company's sample shelves. Known for being a true breakaway rod holder, the Rapid Release Breakaway rod holder allows the angler to set the hook and remove the rod from the holder in one motion. This product showcases Xcentric's full-line of abilities—they designed the prototype, made the molds, and produced the actual product. 

    Summary

    At Xcentric, Hurco is the preferred vertical 
    machining center. The operators like the ease of use, especially the ergonomics of the control—slanted screen for easy viewing and big buttons.  Additionally, the Xcentric owners say the coolant-thru-the-spindle, the wash down system and chip auger, keep the chips out and the machines clean, “because there is no time to stop the machine when we are building molds,” says Weaver. “All in all the Hurco was the best bang for the buck and has the least amount of downtime over other machines”.

    For Damon and Brendan Weaver, another Hurco advantage is the man who represents the company in their area. Damon says Fred Braun, of Braun Machinery, is diligent, extremely knowledgeable, and made the decision to go with Hurco an easy one. As the Weaver brothers expand their efficient prototyping services to more companies and industries, Hurco and Braun Machinery will be there every step of the way.​

    www.xcentricmold.com