Wilsons, a manufacturing industry metals supplier, has invested £1.5 million in a Handtmann HBZ CompactCell 5-axis simultaneous CNC machining centre supplied by Engineering Technology Group (01926 818418).

A significant part of the Cambridgeshire firm’s business is manufacturing semi-machined aluminium aerospace grade workpieces. The HBZ CompactCell now allows Wilsons to offer part-machined billets to near-net shape, saving high value processing time, scrap removal and recycling by its customers.

Wilsons director and general manager James Digby explains: “Very often 90% of the material sold into the aerospace sector is turned into swarf. So we offer a service that supplies a billet already 80% machined, allowing the customer to focus on the high accuracy finish machining operations and increase its machining throughput, without any considerable investment.

“There are very few customers, and competitive stockists, that can offer the added-value capability that this machine gives us. The HBZ runs at 30,000 rpm, whereas most customer machines run at a third of that,
so we can remove bulk workpiece material three times faster. In effect, customers can focus on spindle time in the areas that earn them most money – final component machining, rather than pre-machining. We have also eliminated high volume swarf management from their cost base.”

In addition, the HBZ’s twin 4 by 1 m pallets allow load/unload of parts and fixtures while the machine is in operation. A RUF swarf briquetting unit was also supplied.

This article first appeared in the November 2016 Machinery aerospace supplement.