Familiar to many for its range of magnetic chucks and lifting equipment, Eclipse Magnetics today offers a far wider product portfolio, with magnetic filtration and separation systems accounting for around 50% of turnover. These filtration and separation systems are used across a diverse range of applications, including the removal of swarf that accumulates during machining operations.

The growth of this side of Eclipse Magnetics’ business prompted a review of its in-house machining capacity and the need to replace an ageing vertical machining centre that had 25 years of service and was seen to be on “borrowed time”. Due to the nature of the work, with a mix of standard catalogue and bespoke systems, any new machine had to be versatile, easy to set-up and program, as well as provide the Y-axis travel needed to accommodate taller parts in the product range.

“In addition to the size of machine, the price/performance ratio was a major driver in our decision making when it came to the new machining centre,” says John Parker, design engineer at Eclipse Magnetics. “We looked at lots of options, but after discussions with one of our subcontractors, Impact Toolroom Services, who use XYZ machines, we settled on the XYZ 1000 LR vertical machining centre.”

The type of machining undertaken includes light milling, drilling and tapping in materials from stainless steel to aluminium, so the use of linear rail technology in the XYZ machining centre range provided the cost-effective solution Eclipse Magnetics sought. Choosing the XYZ 1000 LR also delivered the table size and Y-axis travel required, as well as the overall performance in terms of traverse rates and spindle speed, these being 20 m/min in all axes and 8,000 rpm, respectively.

“While the machine size and specification matched our needs, one concern was the 25-year step in control technology,” says Parker. “Our old machine had a Fanuc control, which we programmed using G code, therefore the switch to the latest technology with the Siemens 828D ShopMill control was a little daunting. What we found was the simplicity of programming on the Siemens control meant that we now program most jobs at the machine, with offline 3D software on the PC as back-up if needed.”

This 25-year jump in technology was eased thanks to on-site training provided by XYZ Machine Tools’ applications team. The initial two-day training session covered the key points, with the final one-day, which is included in the machine price, held over for whenever required.

“XYZ have looked after us from start to finish and we are reassured by the fact that their programming helpline is just a phone call away if we ever find ourselves struggling with anything,” concludes Parker.