Turn for the better - CNC lathe and mill-turn technology update

4 mins read

One-hit machining has been a big success at two companies, while one firm, whose production requirements are much lower, has opted for a CNC/manual halfway house. Andrew Allcock explains

Machined Components Systems (MCS) is using eight Miyano fixed-head mill-turn centres to support one-hit machining of complex parts. Installed over a number of years, they are invariably dedicated to the production of specific parts and have delivered cycle time savings of as much as 50%, in some cases. The Redditch-based firm supplies a range of turned/milled/drilled parts and precision engineered machined components to customers in industry sectors as diverse as automotive, petro-chemical, environmental, transport, marine, health care and white goods. SINGLE-CYCLE PRODUCTION One example of the Miyanos' capabilities at the 34-employee firm concerns the Miyano ABX-64TH2, purchased specifically to machine a casing for an innovative device that helps determine leaks in water pipework. With two spindles and three turrets, and a total of 36 tools available, the 64 mm bar capacity machine completes the part in a single cycle – including milling a complex internal clover-leaf feature at one end. In doing so, it has halved the cycle time, compared to the former method of separate set-up turning and milling. Image: MCS is achieving single-cycle production on this part "We began producing this part on 'conventional' CNC machines in small volumes, but, as sales improved and the customer ramped up our production, we needed a more efficient method of production," explains managing director Warren Gray, who opted for Miyano after making initial enquiries around the industry, which pointed to it being the best way forward. "This has certainly proved the case, so much so that the success of the machine – and the service and back-up we received - soon led to the installation of more machines from Citizen Machinery UK (01923 691500)." Another beneficiary of one-hit machining has been precision air motor manufacturing specialist Briggs Brothers (Engineers). Here, the recent installation of a Doosan TT 1800SY twin-turret, twin-spindle machine has delivered outstanding productivity and performance benefits to a leading precision manufacturer. In fact the company, also co-incidentally located at Redditch, took delivery of a complete turnkey package, designed, managed and implemented by Mills CNC (01926 736736) in partnership with Briggs Brothers, installed in December 2010. AUTONOMOUS CELL Supplied with an automatic bar feeder and driven tools, the TT 1800SY operates as an autonomous manufacturing cell and is used exclusively to manufacture complex, high precision air motor parts - front plates, rear plates, rotors, cylinder housings etc – for Briggs Brothers' principal customer, Norbar Torque Tools. The parts made are for Norbar's 'Pneutorque PTM-Series' of hand-held, air-operated torque multipliers. Having seen steadily increasing volumes over several years, annual production is now triple the original requirement. Explains Richard Clark, Briggs Bros managing director: "These parts were originally manufactured on our two CNC lathes and two machining centres, which necessitated transferring parts between machines and cleaning and loading fixtures in between machining operations. This was very time consuming and created backlogs, whilst waiting for machines to become available." The initial thought was to install another machining centre, but, on approaching Mills CNC, a different suggestion was made. Mr Clark again: "We approached a number of machine tool suppliers with the intention of investing in another machining centre. However, once we had explained what we wanted to achieve to Mills CNC's pre-sales and applications; their response was very different from the other companies." Mills CNC suggested the TT 1800SY and demonstrated that all PTM Series parts could be manufactured solely on the TT machine, eliminating the need for an additional machining centre and 'freeing up' all capacity on the existing CNC lathes and machining centres. PTM Series parts (front and rear plates, cylinders etc) are now machined in single set-ups and cycle times have been significantly reduced. Owing to the elimination of transferring parts between machines, part accuracies have been improved, productivity has increased and the company now has a more reliable and repeatable machining process. Mills also proposed, and subsequently supplied, the workholding, tooling, barfeeder and CNC part programmes, while, as part of the turnkey solution, it also verified the manufacturing process and 'passed off' the machine and all equipment at its own facility, prior to delivery. Training was also provided by Mills via its CNC Training Academy. Concludes Mr Clark: "The investment was bigger than we originally intended, but the results have been exceptional." LOW VOLUME BENEFIT Moving to lower volume production and Bartlett Engineering Co of Sageston, South Wales, has installed XYZ ProtoTRAK-based machines to support its business. The company produces parts to support traction engine restoration, as well as maintenance and repair work done for local refineries and gas processing plants, much of this involving reverse engineering of damaged or worn parts. Additionally a proponent of 'traditional' skills, a visit to XYZ Machine Tools (01823 674200) in 2005 saw co-owner Richard Scourfield won over, following a demonstration of the plain English prompt programming of the ProtoTRAK CNC system. Image: Plain English prompts from the ProtoTRAK control won over Bartlett "My mind was made up there and then that I was going to buy one of these machines. It's a decision that I wish I had made years before and it is a decision that I have not regretted since." Bartlett Engineering's most recent capital investment is a 7.5 kW/2,500 rpm XYZ ProTURN SLX 425, 1,250 mm between-centres CNC/manual gap bed lathe, bought to replace an earlier model in accordance with the company's policy of updating on a regular five-year cycle. It joins an 11 kW/1,800 rpm ProTURN SLX 555, 1,750 mm between-centres CNC/manual gap bed lathe and a 3.75 kW/5,000 rpm ProtoTRAK SMX 3500 CNC/manual bed mill. "We went to XYZ originally, because we didn't want to get into G and M code programming. We wanted simple conversational programming that could be used by everyone, from older generation manual machinists to young people with limited machining experience. I had one person who was pretty sceptical of CNC and how it would assist us, but it took just 10 minutes with the ProtoTRAK control to convince him of the benefits. As for me, it did take a little while to get into the mindset of telling the control the shape I wanted to end up with and then working back to what I wanted to make it from, but the training provided is brilliant." Box item Turning product update [] The fourth-generation, top-of-the-range Citizen M32-VIII CNC sliding-head, turn-mill centre has optional 35 mm bar capacity – Details [] Ward Hi-Tech is meeting demand from the oil and gas, power generation and renewable energy sectors for heavier long bed turning machines under an agency arrangement with Taiwan-based manufacturer SFM – Details Image: Large machines, suitabel for oil industry work from SFM [] Hankook's VTC-200E elevating cross rail turning and boring machine provides a heavy duty machining platform, weighing in at 45 tonnes and able to process components weighing up to 12 tonnes on its 2 m table. (Ward CNC Machinery) – Details [] The standard ST-30Y in Haas' versatile mid-size Y-axis turning centre series now has a maximum cutting capacity of 533 by 660 mm and is equipped with a 12-station hybrid BOT/VDI turret – Details