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    MANUFACTURER BUYS SLIDING-HEAD LATHES BUT MACHINES COMPONENTS WITHOUT THE GUIDE BUSH

    The decision by sliding-head lathe builders to introduce the ability to remove the guide bush heralded a natural successor to the single-spindle cam auto

    Top quality brass lampholder manufacturer S Lilley & Son Ltd, now in its sixth generation of family ownership, has nearly finished phasing out the 20 or so cam-type, single-spindle bar autos it has used in its Birmingham factory since the 1950s. In their place are to be found 11 modern CNC, twin-spindle, bar-fed lathes up to 65 mm capacity with driven tooling, six of them supplied by Citizen Machinery UK.

    Two are Miyano BNA42-MSY fixed-head turning centres of 42 mm capacity installed in 2017 and 2021, while the other four are Cincom sliding-head models (sliders), two for turning, milling and drilling 32 mm bar and two for processing 20 mm stock. Interestingly, to achieve the high speed of production for which outdated cam technology is renowned and couple it with the inherent advantages of CNC technology, namely unattended running and rapid changeover for smaller economical batch sizes, the company operates the sliding-head machines almost exclusively without the guide bush in place.

    The reason S Lilley & Son Ltd is able to do this is that most components for the light fittings it makes are shorter than 3.5 times their diameter (3.5D). Normally a ratio of 2.5D is approximately the limit when stock is not supported in a bushing (or by another means such as a tailstock or sub spindle), otherwise the protruding length of bar deflects under pressure from the tool, causing inaccuracy during machining. However, the relatively open tolerances of the lampholder parts produced in Birmingham allows the company to push the limit higher, lowering the cost of manufacturing parts up to 40 percent longer by taking advantage of higher speed production without the guide bush.

    Advantages of guide bush-less operation

    The rationale for investing in sliding-head lathes and choosing to operate them without the guide bush for most of the time, rather than buying a fixed-head lathe, is due to the sheer speed of production that is possible using the in-line ganged cutters typically found in a sliding-head machine. It allows the linear cross slide to effect very fast tool changes between cuts. Cycles times are considerably shorter and sometimes even halved compared with using a fixed-head turning centre, in which the tool carrier is generally a revolving turret that takes longer to index the next cutter into position.

    Due to the bar being clamped by a collet closer to the spindle nose on a slider when it is used without the guide bush, Z-axis stroke is restricted to around one quarter of what is possible when stock slides through a bushing. It is because the whole spindle head rather than just the bar moves in and out of the working area to present the part to platen-mounted tools that can only move in X and Y. However, the shorter Z-axis travel is unimportant in the Birmingham factory, as most components are less than 3.5D.

    As the collet grips the bar much nearer the work than in classical sliding-head turning, the more rigid clamping allows deeper cuts to be taken without chatter, resulting in further efficiency gains as well as better surface finishes, even when machining demanding materials.

    Guide bush-less operation on a slider brings with it numerous other advantages in addition to all the productivity benefits. Bar of lower dimensional quality and price can be tolerated, as there is no bush for it to seize in. The remnant after the last part has been machined from a bar is around one-third the length left after true sliding-head turning, so there is less material wastage. It can equate to a considerable monetary saving, especially when prices are as high as they are presently, the more so when expensive alloys are being processed. Notable also is that bar of cross section other than round, such as hexagonal or extruded, may be machined if the guide bush is not present.

    Indeed, if support is not necessary for the stability of a part during machining, it is better to remove the guide bush as it can actually compromise accuracy. Holding roundness then becomes easier on short components, as the ability to achieve tolerance is dictated by the high quality spindle rather than the bushing. Furthermore it is possible to run at higher rotational speeds to achieve better production rates and surface finishes.

    An extra benefit of turning outside diameters in this mode is that multiple passes are feasible, so shallow roughing cuts may be taken to alleviate the chip breaking problems of turning to size in one pass, plus there is potential to prolong tool life. It is not possible to retract components of reduced diameter back into a guide bush if they are longer than the land area of the bush, as the component would not be supported and vibration would occur.

    Transition from cams to CNC

    S Lilley & Son Ltd’s transition from cam-type to CNC lathes started in 2008, somewhat later than in many manufacturing companies for three reasons. First, as tolerances on its electrical products are not particularly tight, their production is relatively unaffected by the age of a machine tool; second, the fittings are frequently needed in large volumes commensurate with single-spindle cam auto operation; and third, the company was fortunate to employ a highly skilled cam auto setter-operator who retired as recently as 2019. That was when the penultimate cam-controlled machine was sold, the single remaining auto being devoted to a particular long-running job.

    The employee’s departure was the trigger for the Lilley family to accelerate the purchase of Cincom sliders. A pair of 20 mm capacity A20-VII models was installed, one in 2019 and another in 2020, as direct, more productive replacements for the former single-spindle cam autos. The A20s also have the advantage of a compact footprint on the shop floor, the area of which is limited in the Birmingham factory.

    The new sliders joined an L32 Cincom model installed in 2012 for producing parts up to 32 mm diameter. The machine was swapped in 2017 for a more modern L32-XII. Likewise, this slider is only occasionally used with the guide bush fitted for producing some longer components from bar or tube.

    Director Simon Lilley is of the opinion that, even though cam-type lathes can produce more components per hour than their CNC counterparts, the ability to set the latter machines so much more quickly and run them unattended through the night during the week and into a ghost shift on Saturday mornings means that in terms of production output, one Cincom is able to do the work of three of the older single-spindle cam autos.

    He described as “a massive advantage” the ability to produce long runs of components on the CNC machines without an operator in attendance, for example 100,000 Lilley hexagonal lock nuts. During the daytime the sliders are ideal for producing smaller quantities of say 500-off, whereas cam-type lathes would need to be set to run a minimum of 10,000-off to be economical and in any case most of this type of work has long since disappeared overseas. Being able to reduce economical batch size so substantially, down to about 100-off, has resulted in substantial savings in inventory and space and the cost of holding large stocks.

    Moreover, CNC turning centres seamlessly include what would traditionally be separate second operations. The need for these previously made certain jobs uneconomical on lathes with cam-actuated slideways if a suitable and often expensive attachment could not be sourced.

    Chip breaking software raises efficiency

    In January 2022 a fourth Cincom arrived, an L32-XIILFV with Citizen’s latest low frequency vibration (LFV) chip breaking technology in the Mitsubishi control. The three existing sliders plus the Miyanos and other fixed-head lathes were approaching full capacity, so the new machine provided flexibility to swap work around on the shop floor and it is also back-up for the remaining, ageing single-spindle cam auto.

    Additionally it is the mainstay for manufacturing increasing quantities of a particular type of screw lampholder known as the Edison E14, a heavy brass product available in a range of decorative finishes that is proving extraordinarily popular on world markets.

    As with the other sliders on site, the machine is rarely used with the guide bush fitted. So resolute is S Lilley & Son Ltd’s policy in this regard that longer parts up to 5D, which could be regarded as being best produced by sliding-head turning, are instead machined half way in the main spindle and transferred to the sub spindle for the remainder of the turning and milling to be completed. It saves half an hour’s work installing the guide bush and another half an hour removing it, maximising productivity.

    More than 95 percent of the Birmingham firm’s turned parts are made from free-machining brass bar, but lately there has been an increase in demand from its customer base for aluminium parts up to 32 mm diameter and for plastic components such as acrylic LED lenses and acetal grommets. About a quarter of the company’s throughput is contract machining of such special components for luminaire manufacturers already buying Lilley brass lampholders and lighting accessories.

    Craig Lilley, another director and family member concluded, “Anodising quality 2011 T3 aluminium is not as free-machining as it is made out to be and the 6026 T9 grade we turn is even worse in terms of its tendency to generate stringy swarf. Most plastics are similarly problematic when machined.

    “LFV repeatedly oscillates the tool clear of the bar surface for a fraction of a second, fragmenting the swarf into manageable chip sizes. There is no longer a need to stop the machine to clear swarf tangled around the tool and component, so production output is maintained.

    “By the simple insertion of G-codes, the function can be programmed to cut in and out during a cycle. It is turned off automatically when it is not needed for chip breaking, so the slight reduction in material removal rate during LFV machining is minimised. It really could not be more flexible.”

    Reshoring and exports boost subcontractor’s growth

    In response to an upturn in business over the past few years, Merseyside subcontract machining company Wealdpark is to treble the size of its factory. The first phase of expansion, due to begin immediately, will add an extension a little larger than the 6,000 sq ft unit it presently operates in Sutton Road, St Helens. By the end of 2023, another 5,000 sq ft unit is scheduled for completion on an adjacent plot that was purchased recently.

    Mainly a precision turned parts subcontractor, the family owned and run firm operates two vertical machining centres and 15 sliding-head lathes on the shop floor, alongside six Miyano fixed-head turning centres from Citizen Machinery UK.

    The latest to arrive, in April 2022, was a Miyano ABX-64SYY, bringing to four the number of these 65 mm diameter bar capacity machines purchased since 2014. In use also are 51 mm and 42 mm capacity models. All have twin spindles and twin 12-station, Y-axis turrets with driven tooling for efficient, one-hit production. Despite the machines being bar fed, 40 percent of the time they are employed for turning billet in 6-inch and even 8-inch chucks, enabling the production of much larger diameter parts with an operator in attendance.

    Together with father Jim and brother Steve, Phil Smith is a director and joint owner of Wealdpark. He said, “We have increased turnover by a quarter in the two years since the start of the pandemic and sales during each of the first five months of 2022 were at a record level compared with previous years.

    “Production of parts for the hydraulic, pneumatic and yellow goods industries is particularly strong at the moment. We are also active in the aerospace, automotive, electrical fastener, fire-fighting, military and temperature measurement sectors.

    “Manufacture of parts for ventilators has been an established part of our business for many years and it of course continued through 2020 and 2021. We have been able to turn this into a growth area by supplying similar components to Europe and North America.

    “Admittedly part of the rising sales figures is down to an increase in material costs but the underlying growth is undeniable, due in part I believe to the trend towards re-shoring.

    “It has given us the confidence to invest in new infrastructure and capacity to develop our business and part of that strategy will be the continuing purchase of top quality plant like Miyano lathes, which we have used since 2007.”

    There are no other makes of fixed-head turning/milling centres in the factory. It is because once Wealdpark’s directors had satisfied themselves that the Japanese-built machines are of good quality and value, reliable and accurate, the acquisition of further similar lathes provides the flexibility to be able to swap tools and programs easily across the shop floor.

    In fact it was other members of the British Turned Parts Manufacturers Association (BTMA) that recommended the Miyano brand in the early days when the subcontractor was transitioning from a cam auto shop with 53 machines to a fully CNC-equipped company. The process started in 2001 and was complete within a decade.

    Both Phil and production manager Neil Ireland are waiting for Citizen to introduce its LFV (low frequency vibration) chipbreaking software, which is already available on a pair of 42 mm bar capacity Miyano models, to larger machines in the series. It will certainly be adopted in the St Helens factory, as it will be ideal for automatically breaking up stringy swarf into manageable chips when machining certain materials.

    They include highly ductile C101 copper, much of which is turned, milled and drilled in the St Helens factory for producing electrical components, and AMS5629, a martensitic, precipitation-hardening stainless steel used widely by the aerospace industry. Both are problematic in their tendency to birds-nest when machined, as are aluminium and a number of plastics. Even EN3B mild steel, which is supposed to have good machinability, is proving difficult to turn without swarf clogging the working area, due perhaps to the current shortage of good quality material.

    Another issue that occupies Neil’s thoughts is whether to continue using twin-turret fixed-head lathes or progress to triple-turret models. For example, instead of the latest ABX-64SYY 9-axis CNC lathe with upper and lower turrets, Citizen Machinery could have supplied a 12-axis Miyano ABX-64THY with a third Y-axis turret positioned above the spindle centreline. All three tool carriers can be in cut simultaneously to achieve very high levels of productivity.

    Neil’s view for the time being is that the extra time required for setting such a lathe and then programming it to incorporate the movements of a third turret cannot be justified for Wealdpark’s relatively small batch sizes of typically between 1,000- and 3,000-off. Additionally, the upper turret of the Miyanos on the shop floor often holds a U-Drill of large diameter for reverse-end axial machining and a third turret would restrict its movement. Nevertheless, the potential offered by a three-turret solution is constantly under review.

    Notable also regarding the fixed-head lathes is their speed of production, despite their large size. Occasionally, when the sliding-head lathes are particularly busy, a production run is transferred to a fixed-head lathe with very little increase in cycle time. One component machined from 20 mm hexagonal bar, for example, takes 28 seconds to produce on a sliding-head lathe with gang tooling and only 32 seconds using a 65 mm capacity Miyano with turret tooling.

    Generally, Wealdpark operates a 37-hour week and sets up all lathes at the end of the day for a considerable amount of unattended machining of free-cutting materials overnight and into the weekend. However, the recent increase in workload has necessitated occasional three-shift attendance and 24/7 operation.

    Reliable autonomous operation of the Miyanos is ensured by comprehensive load monitoring of both spindles and of the three linear axes of both turrets, as well as of the live rotary tools. The parameters of each channel can be set separately according to the job to ensure safe operation combined with minimal disruption to production.

    Programming is carried out mainly at the Fanuc Series 30i-B control on the shop floor, although offline-created content is sometimes added including engraving and deburring routines generated using the Alkart Wizard programming software provided by Citizen Machinery.

    In preparation for the impending expansion, at the start of 2022 Wealdpark took on three extra staff, an experienced setter-operator and two apprentices who in September this year will start a four-year NVQ level 2 diploma course on day release to St Helens College. Further new appointments will follow to increase the company’s headcount over the next couple of years.

    TURNED PARTS SUBCONTRACTOR PROGRESSES WITH MODERN SLIDING-HEAD TECHNOLOGY

    An electrical maintenance engineer by trade and with a solid grounding in mechanical engineering, Tom Pearce started his career as a prototype machine builder in the rubber industry. He subsequently worked for 11 years in his father’s company commissioning production machinery. In 2016 he started his own business, CIRC Manufacturing in Westbury, Wiltshire and after initially concentrating on welding, a skill that has been retained, he decided to branch out into subcontract machining.

    His current CNC capacity includes a vertical machining centre and two fixed-head lathes, all pre-owned, and three Citizen Cincom sliding-head lathes also purchased second-hand due to financial constraints during the start-up phase. His stated aim is to gravitate towards using more of the latter machines to produce complex, small to medium diameter, high added value components, as this is where he sees a profitable future.

    The first CNC lathes on the shop floor were the two fixed-head models with live tooling, which have no bar feeder but are able to accept a one-metre length of bar up to 65 mm diameter through the spindle. Mr Pearce took advantage of this by employing a bar puller in the turret and including a macro in his programs to advance the bar automatically after each component is parted off. It allows up to five hours’ unattended running, depending on the size and complexity of the parts being produced, and brought home to the entrepreneur the benefits of automation.

    CIRC was receiving more and more enquiries for machining components of much smaller diameter, however, including from his existing customer base. To keep them happy the company was having to subcontract out this work, as it was not economical to use the relatively large lathes on the shop floor. New plant was needed and a sliding-head turning centre was the preferred option, as it is capable of producing long, slender parts as well as those of larger aspect ratio. An internet search strongly indicated that a Citizen would be the best make to buy.

    So in 2019 Mr Pearce bought a 1995-built Cincom L20-VII slider with a 3-metre bar magazine sight-unseen for £4,000 from a website and used his engineering skills to refurbish it himself. He did not feel sufficiently confident to commission it so asked Citizen Machinery UK to align the bar feeder, bolt down the machine and check the axis movements. The company was very receptive to doing so and promptly sent in an engineer to complete the work.

    The lathe proved to be easy to operate by simply reading the manual. Word soon spread throughout Wiltshire and further afield that the capacity was available and CIRC started receiving more enquiries for complex turned parts. Most were fulfilled, although some had to be turned down as the machine does not have a full C-axis on the main and sub spindles, only 15-degree indexing.

    That prompted Mr Pearce in 2020 to approach Citizen Machinery UK directly for a machine with C-axis spindles and he also wanted higher speed driven tooling. The supplier offered a K16E-VII built in 2011, a 16 mm capacity slider that ticked the right boxes and is one of the fastest lathes that Citizen has ever manufactured. The supplier duly delivered the machine and in Mr Pearce’s words “nailed the installation and commissioning in one day, then provided a full day’s training the next”, so the lathe was quickly into production.

    A copper contact pin, a development part that was being produced on the L20-VII, required holding a ± 5 µm tolerance on diameter, which was difficult to achieve. Additionally, cycle times were unduly long. The work was immediately transferred to the K16E-VII and at the same time, as luck would have it, the batch size increased dramatically to 20,000-off. The accuracy needed was easy to attain and the cycle time fell threefold from one minute to 20 seconds, which translated into much more economical production. The contract has since expanded and the subcontractor is now producing a family of pins in long runs for a customer in the electrical industry.

    Mr Pearce added, “If we don’t run the K16E-VII overnight, it needs to be warmed up in the morning to achieve the tight tolerance on the connector pins. After 40 minutes the lathe, with its 45-degree tool platen driven by two ballscrews to achieve high resolution movement, is able to hold ± 5 µm all day.

    “We currently use three digital micrometres and a toolmaker’s microscope for quality control of these parts, but intend to invest in an optical, non-contact shaft measurement machine to take over this metrology task.”

    Having seen the benefits of more modern sliding-head turning technology, he was keen to harness it for the production of components larger than 16 mm diameter. Accordingly in January 2022 he bought a two-year-old Citizen Cincom L20-VIIILFV, again on the open market, and achieved another step change in productivity.

    Although nominally a 20 mm capacity sliding-head lathe, the guide bush is removable (as an option) to allow stock up to 25.4 mm (1 inch) to be turn-milled in fixed-head mode. The first job put on the machine was the production of 20,000 stainless steel gland nuts of 22.22 mm (7/8 inch) diameter for an electrical equipment manufacturer.

    When interviewed towards the end of April 2022, Mr Pearce had produced numerous different components on the machine but the guide bush had still not been used. He says the advantage is that the roundness and straightness of the bar is not so critical when the lathe is used in this mode, added to which the remnant lengths are much shorter, both of which saves cost and results in more economical production. He estimates that the guide bush will only be used for about one-quarter of the jobs produced on the machine, underlining the flexibility of modern sliders.

    The L20-VIIILFV has even faster and more powerful spindles and live tooling than the previous two Cincoms installed in the Westbury factory. It also has integral driven tools for reverse end working and an uncluttered working area to provide more space to facilitate cutter exchange at up to 37 tool positions. After installation, the machine immediately started taking sub-20 mm diameter workload off the fixed-head lathes, freeing them to produce larger parts. Across a wide spread of components from 1 mm to 1 inch diameter, the L20-VIIILFV is executing some extremely fine work involving, for example, a 0.3 mm slitting saw and profile boring of a pre-drilled, 1.5 mm diameter hole.

    There are generally two impediments to lights-out production, according to Mr Pearce, namely component dimensions drifting out of tolerance and swarf build-up in the machining area requiring operator attendance to remove it. The latest lathe avoids both problems and therefore frequently runs unmanned overnight. The first issue is addressed by the presence of thermal compensation sensors around the machine and the second by Citizen’s LFV (low frequency vibration) technology running in the operating system of the Mitsubishi control.

    Mr Pearce explained, “Sliding-head lathes when used with the guide bush in place have an inherent drawback. It is not really feasible to rough and then finish turn a part, as the smaller diameter of the roughed section when drawn back into the guide bush would cause vibration and impair the finishing pass.

    “It is therefore necessary to turn to size in one operation, but that tends to produce long, stringy swarf when machining certain malleable materials. The LFV software prevents this from happening by lifting the tool tip away from the surface of the material periodically for a few microseconds.

    “The frequency of the oscillation can be adjusted in the part program to control the size of the much shorter chips, added to which the LFV function can be turned off by G-code when it is more expedient, i.e. slightly quicker, to cut without it.

    “Overall, productivity is increased by enabling reliable unattended operation, eliminating the need to include axis shuffles in programs to shake swarf off components, especially from grooves, and avoiding the need to stop the machine to clear swarf.”

    The job on the lathe when it was photographed, a tubular Duplex stainless steel weld collar for the oil and gas industry, is a good example of how the benefits of LFV can be utilised. The high strength material has a tendency to work harden as it is being machined, the impact of which can be reduced by taking deep cuts to remove the work-hardened layer from the previous pass.

    The problem is that taking deep cuts in such tough, ductile materials inhibits chip breaking and normally results in a bird’s nest of swarf wrapping itself around the component and tool, to the detriment of both and perhaps even rendering them useless. LFV prevents this from happening, so every part produced is perfect and tools last longer. In the case of the weld collar, LFV is switched on for facing the bar and turning a chamfer, then to maintain a high production rate it is switched off for simultaneously boring and turning the OD.

    Mr Pearce is enthused that the chip breaking software also reduces problems and raises productivity when machining other materials such as pure copper, exotic alloys, other stainless steels and most plastics, especially nylons.

    Combined with the availability of high-pressure coolant on the L20-VIIILFV, the chipping function will also prove useful in the production in one hit of CIRC’s single proprietary product, a ballpoint pen housing and cap turned from Nitronic 60 stainless steel alloy. The use of carbide tooling and neat cutting oil in its production gives each individually-numbered writing instrument a beautiful micro-planished surface.

    Mr Pearce concluded, “The three Cincoms are the bedrock of our subcontract machining service. All feature main and sub spindles, full length bar feeds and a multitude of tools for driven cross working, end face milling and off-centre drilling.

    “They enable us to offer economical done-in-one manufacture, without the need for secondary operations. This in turn allows us to run our machines unmanned, so we can offer competitive prices and hence fantastic value to our clients.

    “The only thing holding us back at the moment is difficulty in finding skilled machinists to employ.”

    REPLACEMENT SLIDING-HEAD LATHES GREATLY INCREASE TURN-MILLING CAPACITY

    Good quality machine tools operate reliably and hold tolerance for two decades or more. The problem is that technology moves ahead so fast over such an extended period that the productivity of older machines cannot match that of their newer counterparts.

    This was the situation Redruth subcontractor DP Engineering found itself in until it purchased three new Cincom lathes from Citizen Machinery UK. They are an L20-XLFV installed three years ago, an identical machine that arrived in autumn 2021 and an M32-VIIILFV bought at the end of last year. The latter two machines were direct replacements for equivalent 20 mm and 32 mm capacity sliders of similar type and make bought around the turn of the millennium, several machine generations ago.

    Philip Anthony, DP Engineering’s Sales and Marketing Director commented, “The faster rapid traverses and higher power and speed of the main and sub spindles as well as of the driven tools on the new lathes have increased our capacity considerably. One stainless steel aerospace part we previously turn-milled in one hit on an L20 that is 20-plus years old now takes half that time to produce on its modern replacement.

    “It is a similar story on the 32 mm machine, which is more user-friendly than the former generation lathe and has better access and visibility into the machining area. Moreover, the addition of a rotary B-axis on the gang tool post enables us to machine more complex parts than was previously possible on our sliders.”

    LFV programmable tool oscillation for automatic chip breaking

    A notable technological advance from Citizen since DP Engineering purchased the earlier Cincoms was the introduction five years ago of its proprietary LFV (low frequency vibration) chip breaking software running in the Mitsubishi control. It has resulted in a significant increase in productivity when machining malleable materials such as titanium and stainless steel.

    It is particularly beneficial for the subcontractor, as one-third of its turnover is derived from the aerospace sector in which the use of such materials is commonplace, as it is in the medical industry, which has also generated more work since the start of the pandemic. Normally during machining, stringy swarf often entangles itself around the tool and component, risking damage to both and necessitating lathe stoppage to clear it from the machining area.

    Mr Anthony explained, “The first L20 we bought in 2019 has LFV. We knew about the technology and sent a team of engineers to Citizen Machinery’s Brierley Hill centre to see demonstrations of the chip breaking function in action.

    “For certain parts of cycles, it is very effective at ensuring that what usually becomes a bird’s nest of swarf is broken up into shorter chips, avoiding having to stop the machine to remove it and the consequent loss of production.

    “The best part is that LFV can be programmed to stop during a cycle when it is not needed by inserting a G-code, minimising the slight reduction in metal removal rate during the periods when the tool oscillates away from the component’s surface to break the chips.

    “On some jobs, even when cutting stainless steel, we don’t have to use LFV at all. It depends on the component design, the tolerances that have to be held and the tooling used. However, it is fantastic to have it there for when we need it.”

    He added that, in practice, LFV is particularly effective at controlling swarf on the L20s during turning and drilling operations, while on the M32 it speeds roughing and also plays a role when thread cutting. Overall, having complete control over swarf generation ensures that processes are more reliable and repeatable, added to which tool life is noticeably increased.

    Guide bush-less operation saves costs

    Another attribute of the latest three Cincom lathes that increases their versatility, apart from the extended periods of spindle uptime and unmanned running made possible by the LFV chip breaking software, is the ability to turn-mill shorter components in fixed-head mode without the guide bush, which can be removed and replaced within half an hour.

    This allows lower quality, unground bar to be used, increases by several millimetres the maximum diameter of stock that can be accepted and also reduces bar wastage due to much shorter remnant lengths. Consequently this mode of operation is frequent in the Redruth factory, especially for the significant amount of kanban production fulfilled by DP Engineering for its customers.

    Mr Anthony remarked that overall, taking into account the higher speed of machining, the LFV chip breaking function and the option of guide bush-less operation, the latest three lathes give DP Engineering not only considerably higher productivity but also a lot more flexibility when allocating jobs to the 18 turning machines around the factory, including the current tally of five Cincoms.

    A couple of dozen jobs have already been transferred from multi-turret fixed-head lathes to the new sliding-head models for one-hit machining, freeing up the former for other production duties. Such versatility is ideal for a subcontracting environment, leading to faster deliveries to customers, enhanced reputation and more orders.

    Mr Anthony also pointed out that as space on the shop floor in Redruth is fairly limited, replacing machines with models that are much more productive is an ideal way to grow the business without the expense and disruption of having to move to larger premises. This is especially important in respect of his turned parts production, which accounts for three-quarters of throughput.

    About DP Engineering

    DP Engineering is a cog in the wheel of Cornwall’s £732 million manufacturing industry. It was the brainchild of a keen motorcycle rider, the late David Paull, who was frustrated at not being able to obtain engine parts for his bike and decided to machine his own. In 1952 he started a motor reconditioning business, David Paull Motor Cycles, which led him into subcontract machining and was the forerunner of the current firm.

    In 2008, DP Engineering gained AS9100 accreditation in addition to ISO 9001: 2000 and established itself as a supplier to the aerospace industry. Due to business expansion, in 2014 the company purchased a purpose-built, 17,000 sq ft premises in Redruth, where the subcontractor operates today under the watchful eye of CEO Martin Legg.

    Major sectors served include aerospace, defence, oil and gas, marine and renewables. The company is known for being a low-to-medium volume shop, producing parts typically from 10- to 50,000-off. Lean manufacturing principles allow cost effective production, from prototypes through to batch work, and over 500 kanban items can be produced for next day delivery.

    Other capital investments made by the subcontractor within the past 12 months, apart from the two Cincom lathes, include a Matsuura 5-axis, 10-pallet cell for automated machining of prismatic components, an Aberlink coordinate measuring machine to inspect them, and a ViciVision optical, non-contact measuring machine for quality control of rotational parts.

    BESPOKE PRODUCTION SOLUTIONS ARE KEY TO EXPANSION OF SALES TERRITORIES

    Due to unprecedented growth in sales of Cincom sliding-head and Miyano fixed-head turning centres, which has doubled Citizen Machinery UK’s turnover since 2016, the company has decided to increase the number of its area sales managers from five to six in order to maintain the high level of customer support for which the supplier is renowned.

    Consequently, two promotions have been made within the existing business. Simon Fitzpatrick will serve Ireland, Scotland and territories in the north of England, while James Taylor will look after the south-west. Both have excellent technical expertise and product knowledge gained in applications.

    At the same time, Tony Nolloth has been appointed UK & Ireland Sales Manager to coordinate full-time the activities of all sales territories. He is well placed to fulfil his new role, having previously been responsible for sales in the south-west and having gained a wealth of knowledge and experience of the company and its products since joining in 1989.

    Edward James, managing director of Citizen Machinery commented, “Our success over recent years has been largely down the introduction of the proprietary LFV (low frequency vibration) chip breaking function in the control system of our Cincom lathes, coupled with robust mechanical enhancements, which are now also available on selected Miyano models.”

    “In the last five years since the technology was launched, we have sold 600 machines to bring the installed base of our lathes in the UK and Ireland to approximately 5,000. Last year we achieved our second best turnover and even during the height of the pandemic in 2020 we hit 82 percent of our sales target.”

    “Another pillar in achieving this outstanding performance has been a dramatic increase in deliveries of our fixed-head lathes, the range of which has expanded considerably. A decade ago Miyano products accounted for just 10 percent of turnover whereas today they make up almost half of sales.”

    Customised, automated, proven

    A facet of the supplier’s business central to its success is that its engineers are always available to provide advice, ensuring that customers receive exactly the right production solutions for their applications. It applies equally to new purchases and to machines already installed and running. The ethos is that only if users are optimally served can the Citizen brand grow strongly.

    To this end, the company inaugurated in early 2021 a solutions centre at its Bushey headquarters to design and assemble customised production cells. The service encompasses full applications engineering support including programs, tooling, additional functions such as cleaning and packaging, and comprehensive machining trials prior to acceptance, delivery, commissioning and training. Solutions can be either stand-alone or integrated into larger manufacturing plant.

    Automation to allow lights-out production and minimal operator attendance often plays a part, consistent with the increasing demand for Industry 4.0-compliant manufacturing systems. So also does integration of other processes in the working area of the lathes, such as laser cutting, to enable one-hit machining of complex parts.

    Projects are frequently demanding in terms of their scope, level of innovation, process capability and return on investment. Despite these constraints, there will always be a sound business case for what Citizen Machinery delivers. It will be pragmatic, process-optimised and cost-effective, not necessarily the top solution possible, which may be overly expensive and take too long to amortise.

    Freeing space in Bushey to house the solutions activity was made possible by the opening in July 2019 of a 680 square metre turning centre of excellence in Brierley Hill. That in turn was only sanctioned by the Japanese parent company due to buoyant sales of its products in the UK and Ireland. It is a classic case of success breeding success, which has resulted in Citizen Machinery becoming the largest supplier of bar-fed lathes into these markets.

    SLIDING-HEAD LATHES ARE THE PERFECT CHOICE FOR START-UP TURNED PARTS SUBCONTRACTOR

    Glenn Poleykett began his career in manufacturing in 2006 at his uncle’s firm, making components for darts on Cincom sliding-head and Miyano fixed-head mill-turn centres. They are built by Citizen in Japan and sold in Britain and Ireland through subsidiary company Citizen Machinery UK. He quickly realised that sliding-head lathes with driven tooling were capable of producing virtually any part, provided that it was from 32 mm diameter bar or smaller, whereas fixed-head models were incapable of machining shaft-type components to tight tolerances.

    Twelve years on, when he decided to start his own subcontracting business, Stellar Precision Components on the Raynham Road Industrial Estate in Bishops Stortford, he remembered that lesson. He went to the same supplier to purchase two Cincoms, an L32-VIIILFV and an A20-VII. They have since been joined by a third sliding-head lathe, an L20-VIIILFV, which arrived on the shop floor in April 2020.

    Mr Poleykett said, “In the intervening years I worked at a number of subcontractors on various makes of slider, but I always regarded Citizens as the best machines.

    “My opinion was reinforced when a few years ago the manufacturer introduced its patented LFV (low frequency vibration) operating system software in the Mitsubishi control system.

    “It is programmable via G-codes to start and stop during any program, breaking what would normally be stringy swarf into smaller chips that cannot wrap around the tool or component and damage them.”

    He witnessed LFV in action at Citizen’s UK headquarters and technical centre in Bushey before he bought the first two lathes and described the functionality as “incredible”. When machining short-chipping metals such as mild steel, 303 stainless and brass, he does not employ the function as it is not needed and the extremely short periods of air cutting slightly lengthen cutting cycles.

    However when turning and drilling 304 or 316 stainless, aluminium, copper and plastics, he always turns on the function for at least part of the cycle. It has the effect of greatly improving production output through not having to stop the lathe to clear swarf and by being able to leave the machine to run unattended with confidence. He would have ordered an LFV version of the A20-VII, but it had not been introduced on that model at the time, which is why the machine is devoted to producing components from free-cutting metals.

    LFV oscillation of the tool by tens of microns not only breaks the swarf but also allows coolant to penetrate the cut more efficiently for the brief periods when the tip lifts clear of the component surface, reducing heat and prolonging tool life. Depth of cut may be increased substantially, even when processing tough materials, significantly shortening cycle times.

    Swapping between the two modes of LFV is a simple matter, according to Mr Poleykett. If the second, more vigorous chip-breaking action is required, for example when cutting plastics, and the other mode has been inserted in a program by Citizen’s Alkart CNC Wizard off-line part programming software, manual insertion of a single line of code at the start and finish is all that is necessary.

    It is noteworthy that, as is the case on more and more Cincoms and on some Miyano lathes, the most recent L20-VIIILFV delivered to Bishops Stortford has the chip-breaking functionality on both the main and sub spindle, whereas on earlier models it is applied to the main spindle only. The latest machine at Stellar was purchased for manufacturing ventilator parts for the NHS. Funding through Citizen UK Finance and a six-month payment holiday smoothed the acquisition process at a difficult time.

    Much of the subcontractor’s throughput is destined for the aerospace, medical, electrical connector and pneumatics industries. Batch size ranges from 10 to 40,000 pieces and the factory operates 24/7, with two manned shifts per day and three hours of lights-out operation during the early hours of the morning. The security of operator attendance for a majority of the time is needed, as many of the components that the subcontractor produces are of very high accuracy, from a general tolerance of ± 0.1 mm right down to ± 5 microns.

    Components up to the maximum bar size can be produced on both L-series lathes either when the guide bush is in place or in guide bush-less mode, the latter being a standard feature of the machines. The L32 was installed with an optional extension kit that allows bar up to 38 mm diameter to be accommodated, higher than the lathe’s nominal capacity of 32 mm. This additional capability is regularly used and has allowed new business to be won.

    Mr Poleykett takes full advantage of non-guide bush operation when producing shorter components, as it avoids having to use expensive ground stock. Plastic rod, which is always oversize, can be accommodated as well as unground bar of harder metals on which high spots can catch in the guide bush, alarming out the machine. A further benefit is material savings due to much shorter remnants.

    Citizen will present new sliding and fixed head lathes and celebrate 5 years since the launch of its innovative chip-breaking software

    Citizen Machinery’s ground-breaking LFV (low frequency vibration) chip-breaking software, which forms part of the operating system in the controls on some of the manufacturer’s sliding and fixed head mill-turn centres, will feature strongly at MACH 2022 as this year marks the fifth anniversary of the technology’s launch. The principle of operation is distinct from, and superior to, pecking macros programmed into individual machining cycles.

    The patented system is gradually being rolled out across the company’s Cincom sliding head lathes, initially on the main spindle and more recently also on the sub spindle. To enable this, the construction of the machine models is systematically being strengthened to withstand the rigours of the momentary air cutting that creates the chip-breaking effect. There will be five Cincom machines on show at MACH 2022 equipped with LFV. A pair of Citizen’s Miyano fixed head lathes also benefits from the technology, one of which will also be exhibited.

    The chip-breaking functionality can be switched on and off by G-code during a cycle, when deemed expedient, as if it were part of the program. The size of the actual chips can also be predetermined, as close control is maintained over the relationship between spindle speed and LFV oscillation of the tool by tens of microns, which has the effect of repeatedly retracting the tool tip clear of the workpiece. Coolant is able to penetrate the cut more efficiently, so tool life is extended and surface finish is improved.

    Stringy swarf is therefore a thing of the past, even when machining difficult to chip materials like stainless steel, aluminium, copper and plastics. The need for manual swarf clearance is avoided, raising productivity and unattended running time, while the risk of damaging the workpiece and tool is removed. Futhermore, depth of cut may be increased substantially, raising productivity.

    Three modes of LFV may be selected for machining with static and driven tools. The first is ideal for turning and grooving of outer and inner diameters, the second is best suited to micro-drilling operations that require high surface speed machining, while the third offers vibration-free thread cutting.

    Sliding and fixed head lathes on show
    (machines in bold are described in more detail below)

    A total of 12 bar fed, sliding and fixed head mill-turn centres will be demonstrated under power on the Citizen Machinery UK stand at MACH 2022 (Hall 20, stand 150), including an automated production cell with integrated loading and unloading. Accent will also be placed on high technology software and mechanical enhancements that extend the scope and efficiency of machining on the Japanese-built lathes.

    Making its world debut will be the new, 20 mm bar capacity Cincom L20-XIIB5LFV. The series-5 Cincom M32-VIIILFV will appear for the first time at a MACH show, as will the fixed head Miyano BNE-65MYY. Both have been redesigned to offer more power and flexibility and have been fitted with the latest Mitsubishi 800-series touchscreen control. Consequently, the latter machine is Citizen’s first 65 mm capacity lathe to offer superimposed machining, which allows three tools to be in cut together under simultaneous 5-axis control for elevated levels of productivity.

    On show for the first time will be a Cincom L32-XLFV with integrated, high-speed laser cutting, a capability that was originally developed for efficient production of apertures in thin-wall stents on smaller Citizen sliding head lathes.

    There will be a Cincom D25-VIILFV exhibited for the first time at a MACH show with the proprietary chip-breaking software. As on many other sliding head lathes manufactured by Citizen, the user has the advantage of being able to remove the guide bush for more economical material usage when producing shorter components up to typically 2.5 times the bar diameter.

    A further highlight will be a Cincom A20-VIILFV, the first Citizen lathe to be equipped with multi-axis LFV software in a Fanuc-based Cincom control dedicated to this machine model.

    The exhibition will also feature the first showing at a national exhibition in the UK of the 12 mm bar capacity Cincom L12-XLFV with five rear-facing static and driven end-working tool positions and the addition of a Y-axis on the counter spindle to mirror the main spindle’s three axis movements. The machine is intended primarily for production of dental abutments and implants, as well as other complex components.

    From the Miyano stable, the ABX-64THY with 80 mm bar capacity and an ANX-42SYYLFV with Fanuc control will also make their debuts at a national show in the UK. Making another appearance at MACH to illustrate automated chucking will be the twin-spindle Miyano GN-3200W equipped with a high-speed loader capable of achieving high levels of productivity. The compact, rigid, thermally symmetrical machine offers a wide choice of infeed/outfeed devices, single or double high-speed gantry loaders, and transfer and turnover units, making the machine ideal for automated production.

    Rounding off the exhibits on the stand will be an educational area explaining the latest Citizen software. It includes Eco Function hybrid technology that automatically saves energy through the intelligent use of power during non-cutting periods, underpinned by clear, on-screen graphical information showing present, maximum, cumulative and historical power consumption values. The next iteration of Alkart Wizard for off-line programming will also be in evidence, as well as Citizen’s Industry 4.0 capabilities encompassing the latest machine networking and monitoring functionality.

    Debut of the new L20-XIIB5LFV sliding head lathe

    The Cincom L20, Citizen’s best-selling sliding head lathe, has been upgraded to simultaneous 5-axis control via the improved, super-fast M850VM CNC with 15″ touchscreen. The new L20-XIIB5LFV allows multi-axis programming for superimposed machining with up to three tools in cut at the same time. It makes the machining of complex parts faster and easier and improves process stability.

    The machine has a B-axis whose swivel range has been increased to 110 degrees, allowing more complex machining to higher accuracy at the main spindle, while the number of turning tools has been raised to six. Other improvements include a larger pitch between adjacent tools on the opposing and back tool posts to facilitate setting and reduce set-up time, a higher specification sub-spindle for improved productivity and the ability for LFV to be used when reverse-end machining.

    First national showing of the Cincom L12-XLFV

    For efficient machining of dental abutments, a minimum of five rear-facing end-working tool positions including driven stations is required, as well as the addition of a Y2-axis to the X2 and Z2 movements on the counter spindle to match the three degrees of freedom on the main spindle. All these features are provided on the 12 mm bar capacity Cincom L12-X. Previously, to obtain this level of functionality, a user would have had to purchase a 16 mm or even 20 mm capacity lathe, unnecessarily large and expensive for production of such slender components.

    In this latest type-10 lathe, a built-in 12,000 rpm motor drives the counter spindle and acc/dec times have been reduced, promoting higher productivity. Rapid traverse at 35 m/min in all axes contributes further to minimising idle times. A modular tooling system has been adopted for the gang and back tool posts and an extensive variety of tooling layouts up to a maximum of 38 cutters is possible, including the ability to drill angled holes.

    L32-X sliding head lathe exhibited for the first time with laser cutting

    Launched in mid-2019, the Cincom 8-axis L32-XLFV will be on show for the first time at a MACH exhibition, without the optional LFV software but with the addition of high-speed, in-cycle laser cutting. The technology, which was originally developed for efficient production of apertures in thin-wall stents, is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of additional operations when machining tubular stock, or bar after it has been drilled longitudinally.

    The development provides the option of in-cycle production of burr-free holes as small as 0.2 mm diameter and features such as spiral cuts with a 0.025 mm kerf. Consistent and accurate radii of less than 0.1 mm in the corners of slots can be achieved without risk of tool wear or breakage and at a far faster rate than is achievable by a separate EDM process. The non-contact, deflection-free, swarfless machining unit, deployed in the gang tool post, greatly expands freedom of design in the medical, electronics and many other industries.

    Redesigned M32-VIIILFV sliding head lathe offers 5-axis machining

    Although already shown elsewhere, for example at EMO 2021 in Milan, the new flagship series-5 M32-VIIILFV sliding head lathe with Mitsubishi M850W control will occupy a prominent position on the Citizen stand. The 10-axis machine has undergone a fundamental makeover and is considerably more robust than its predecessor, with larger and more rigid ballscrews and a bed that is 500 kg heavier, bringing the total installed weight to 4.3 tonnes.

    The 10-station turret, which runs on hardened box ways, incorporates a new tooling system employing a single, heavier duty, 2.2 kW drive to an increased number of live cutters. Only the selected tool rotates – a world first for Citizen. The gang tool post has been equipped with 1.5 times faster live tools powered by a 2.2 kW motor, as well as a programmable, 9,000 rpm B-axis to enable simultaneous machining in five CNC axes rather than four; while the back tool post with Y-axis now has adjustable-angle tooling. Both features enable production of more complex parts, with three tools in cut at the same time.

    Cincom D25-VII gains LFV

    Since it was launched at the last MACH exhibition in 2018, Citizen has incorporated its chip-breaking software into the 12-axis, 25 mm capacity Cincom D25-VIILFV CNC mill-turn centre, which will be on show this year. The optional upgrade considerably enhances the lathe’s production efficiency. Operational flexibility is maximised by deploying up to 59 tools in the cutting area.

    The latest D25-VII features the Industry 4.0-ready Mitsubishi 800 CNC system with touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard, which also provides triple axis control groups for simultaneous cutting with three tools. The contact angle between each cutter and the component is optimally maintained during production, enhancing surface finish, reducing cycle times and extending tool life.

    New Miyano BNE-65MYY fixed head lathe with Mitsubishi 5-axis CNC for superimposed machining

    Complex components up to 65 mm diameter may be turned and milled from bar on the new Miyano BNE65-MYY 10-axis fixed head lathe. Equipped with two Y-axis turrets, one positioned above and the other below the centreline of the twin-opposed spindles, considerable flexibility is provided for balancing front and back working cycles. The 8-tonne machine was introduced in the autumn of 2020 and is therefore making a first appearance at a MACH show.

    Two-axis movement of the sub spindle facilitates superimposed machining under the control of a Mitsubishi M830W. Tooling on both faces of the top turret can simultaneously cut front-end features on bar stock and reverse-end features on a parted-off component. With the lower turret also working at the main spindle performing pinch turning, milling or drilling, for example, or perhaps OD turning while axial drilling is in progress above, three tools may be in cut at the same time.

    ANX-42SYYLFV with Fanuc control

    Also of double Y-axis configuration, the ANX-42SYYLFV is one of just two Miyano lathes currently to offer LFV, the other having only one Y-axis. The compact, 42 mm bar capacity, 10-axis machine is ideal for OEMs and subcontractors keen to leverage the quality and productivity of a Miyano lathe and at the same time standardise on Fanuc controls on their shop floor for the sake of operator familiarity and compatibility with other machines.

    In addition to LFV software, the 15-inch XGA (extended graphics array) touch panel Fanuc 31iB control features a new Citizen HMI and incorporates the company’s multi-axis technology to allow 3-axis simultaneous cycles, double Y-axis cutting and superimposed machining with three tools. Commonality of tool holders with Citizen’s popular BNA range of Miyano lathes leads to cost savings for existing users of the supplier’s equipment.

    First national showing of 80 mm capacity Miyano fixed head lathe

    The largest bar capacity CNC lathe in the Citizen Machinery product portfolio is the new 12-axis Miyano ABX-64THY, a fixed head model also launched in the autumn of 2020 and therefore new to MACH. It has twin-opposed C-axis spindles and three Y-axis turrets moving over hand-scraped box ways, providing maximum rigidity. Originally designed for mill-turning parts from 64 mm diameter stock, the lathe can now be uprated for continuous, automated, unattended production of components from bar up to 80 mm diameter. Maximum billet size when chucking is 165 mm diameter.

    The three 12-station live turrets can be in cut simultaneously to achieve very high levels of productivity. Two turrets are positioned above the spindle centreline and are dedicated to working at the 15 kW / 2,750 rpm main spindle and 7.5 kW / 5,000 rpm counter spindle respectively. The other turret is located below and has unrestricted travel to operate at either spindle and provide flexibility for balancing front and reverse end machining operations, or to deploy a tailstock centre to support shaft-type components being machined in both spindles. Again, control is by a Fanuc Series 30i-B.

    LATEST SLIDING-HEAD LATHE HOLDS SINGLE-FIGURE MICRON ACCURACY

    Aerospace component manufacturer reinvents itself during the pandemic

    Rugby-based subcontractor Technoset, with 70% of turnover in the aerospace sector, was not a good situation last March (2020) when COVID-19 grounded most aircraft and orders plummeted seven-fold. Towards the end of 2021, the company’s production of aircraft parts is still below one-quarter of previous volumes.

    With the business facing an existential crisis, managing director Kevan Kane and the firm’s owners set about restructuring the operation, positioning Technoset as a solutions provider rather than a supplier of components. It also started targeting challenging contracts for the supply of tight-tolerance components to more industries, notably lasers, fibre optics and telecoms.

    The success of these policies has seen the number of components going through the shop floor for the first time for both existing and new customers more than treble from 10 to 33%. A large proportion have benefited from design-for-manufacture expertise from Technoset engineers to reduce piece part costs for customers.

    The first new machine tool the company has bought since the onset of the pandemic was a highly specified, twin-spindle Cincom M32-VIIILFV bar-fed, sliding-head mill-turn centre, which was delivered by Citizen Machinery UK in spring this year (2021). Replacing two smaller M12 and M16 Cincoms that were about 20 years old, it joined a previous-generation M32-VIII bought in 2017, all numbers representing maximum bar capacity. There are also eight twin-spindle, fixed-head Miyano bar-fed lathes on-site from the same supplier for turning and milling components from stock up to 64 mm in diameter.

    A primary reason for acquiring the latest M32 was a need to machine complex telecoms components, in particular a family of 12 mainly aluminium connector parts for use in the defence industry. Many of them are complex, with a lot of milled detail, and drawing tolerances are below 10 microns.

    That level of accuracy is achieved reliably, even when running lights-out, partly because the lathe incorporates Citizen’s LFV (low frequency vibration) software in the Mitsubishi control’s operating system. Variants of the LFV function can be called up automatically in any part program to break what would normally be stringy swarf into manageable chips. It is no longer necessary to stop the lathe to untangle and clear potentially harmful swarf from the tool and/or component.

    Productivity is therefore maximised, the operator is freed to carry out other tasks on the shop floor and the machine can be left with confidence to run unattended. The programmable chip-breaking software is not only beneficial when machining the aluminium connector parts but will also prove invaluable when Technoset restarts producing aircraft components in significant volumes from Inconel, titanium, Waspaloy, Nimonic and other superalloys, all of which tend to birds-nest when turned and drilled.

    In anticipation of acceleration in the return of aerospace work, the subcontractor introduced a second shift in early September 2021. It is to ensure that contracts for aircraft components, which typically involve batch runs of 1,000 to 2,000-off, do not dominate the shop floor and dilute the production of new work that has been taken on in other industries. Consequently, aerospace work at the AS9100-accredited contract machinists is unlikely to exceed 50% of throughput in the future.

    Rapid development of turning machine technology

    Mr Kane commented “Citizen Machinery’s M32 sliding-head lathe, the manufacturer’s flagship model, has been the most important contributor to Technoset’s business since we bought the first one in 2000.

    “Something that has surprised me is the speed with which the machine technology has advanced. Our latest M32 is of the fifth generation, which has been beefed up and completely redesigned since we installed the last, fourth generation model in 2017.

    “The result has been a step change in performance. I regard the machine as the epitome of sliding head-technology in terms of productivity, flexibility and speed. It is ideal for mill-turning high value piece parts.”

    Improvements to the turning centre include 1.5 times faster live tools powered by a 2.2 kW motor and a programmable, 9,000 rpm B-axis to enable simultaneous machining in five CNC axes rather than four. Combined with the back tool post whose Y-axis now has adjustable-angle tooling, it enables faster production of more complex parts. Superimposed machining allows three tools to be in cut at the same time, further shortening cycle times and raising productivity.

    The 10-station turret incorporates a new tooling system employing a single, heavier duty drive, also rated at 2.2 kW, to an increased number of live cutters. Only the selected tool rotates, suppressing heat generation and vibration to enhance machining accuracy and surface finish. As nearly every part that is turned in the Rugby factory also requires prismatic operations such as milling and drilling to achieve one-hit manufacture, the improvements to the driven tool stations are of considerable benefit.

    Mr Kane added, “The upgraded specification of the M32, which includes an 8,000 rpm main spindle uprated to 5.5 / 7.5 kW and an identical counter spindle, much more powerful than before, means that the machine is able to match the speed of the M12 and M16 that it replaces.

    “Normally, to achieve cost-effective levels of productivity when mill-turning components from smaller diameter bar, you would not put that work on a lathe with double the bar capacity or more, as you would expect it to be slower.

    “That is not the case with the fifth generation M32, which means we can consolidate jobs onto one platform. The reduced mix of machines on the shop floor promotes knowledge transfer and helps to mitigate manufacturing’s industry-wide skills shortage problem.”

    He singled out Citizen Machinery UK’s engineering backup as worthy of special mention; it is applicable not only to Technoset but also to group member Technoturn, St Leonards, where a similar number of Cincom and Miyano lathes are in operation. Responsive service is appreciated, but especially beneficial is the application support.

    Recently, Technoset found itself pitching for work and were stuck on a cycle time of 90 seconds, which was too long to achieve the target price. Mr Kane contacted the supplier’s Bushey headquarters by email and an engineer came back within 24 hours with an application-optimised cycle time of 60 seconds. The one-third decrease resulted in the subcontractor winning the new business.

    Looking to the future

    Focusing on digitalisation and automation, Technoset’s plans are wide-ranging. The turning side of the business, which currently accounts for around two-thirds of turnover, is already automated through the use of bar magazines. The milling side will take a significant step forward in spring 2022 with the installation of a 5-axis machining centre with built-in robotic component load/unload and on-board part probing. It will be the first automated prismatic component manufacturing cell on-site.

    Helping to fund the purchase is a £100,000 Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) grant recently awarded to Technoset. Delivered through the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, the initiative aims to support the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands.

    Part of the money will also be spent on acquiring a CADCAM suite for off-line programming, a function that is currently performed mainly by manual data input at the machines. Consideration will also be given to investment in laser cutting, part marking, a painting facility and special deburring equipment to achieve the high standards demanded by the aerospace and laser industries.

    As any manufacturer knows, use of the best machine tools comes to nothing without skilled people to run them. Mr Kane ensures that highly trained setter-operators are always coming through the system by continually taking on apprentices. Thre are progressing through a four-year program with Midland Group Training Services and two are aligned with the programme delivered by the Manufacturing Technology Centre.

    CITIZEN MACHINERY’S OPEN HOUSE LOOKS SET TO GENERATE £2.3 MILLION OF SALES

    The leading supplier of bar-fed sliding-head and fixed-head CNC turning machines to the British and Irish markets, Citizen Machinery UK, has reported a successful open house. The first since the start of the pandemic, excluding a few virtual events, it was held at the company’s headquarters in Bushey from 12th to 14th October 2021.

    There was a steady stream of visitors over the three days. Numbers were down compared to previous shows, with 100 visitors representing 52 companies attending. Some people are still wary of travelling due to coronavirus, but by far the main reason given for not visiting was pressure of work.

    Orders for 15 machines valued at £2,321,000 were either placed or committed to verbally during the show. Three of the orders were from customers who had registered but could not attend or who had not planned to visit.

    More than two-thirds of the lathes will be supplied with the manufacturer’s proprietary LFV (low frequency vibration) programmable chip breaking software. Launched five years ago, it has transformed the ability of manufacturers to manage swarf when turning, threadcutting and drilling malleable metals and plastics.

    Managing director Edward James enthused, “Our open houses are known for their feelgood factor and we like to entertain as well as take orders.

    “The customary curry evening on Wednesday was very popular as usual and boosted attendance that afternoon and on the Thursday.

    “We organised a Six Nations rugby draw each day for a pair of tickets to see the England v Ireland match in March 2022. There was also a daily prize draw for a Citizen watch.”

    Visitors to the open house were additionally able to see the activities of Citizen Machinery UK’s Solution Centre in Bushey. It has transformed the traditional showroom into a facility for configuring and proving out complex automated machining cells, often with special functions such as in-cycle laser cutting, peripherals, software and robotic cleaning and packaging. The centre also doubles as a permanent exhibition of mill-turn solutions and software.

    CITIZEN MACHINERY TO HOLD POST-EMO OPEN HOUSE

    Citizen Machinery UK has announced that it will hold an open house at its Bushey, Hertfordshire headquarters and recently opened Solutions Centre from 12th to 14th October 2021, the week after the EMO international machine tool show finishes in Milan.

    The company sells its Japanese parent company’s sliding-head (Cincom) and fixed-head (Miyano) bar-fed CNC turn-milling centres into the UK and Irish markets, as well as being the distribution hub for Citizen machines going into France, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Africa.

    Managing director Edward James commented, “We are delighted to be able to reintroduce the physical in-house exhibition format, where people can actually attend and network with others, rather than having to contend with the virtual shows we organised during the pandemic.

    “We will not only be celebrating the return of this annual event but also commemorating a true milestone in the development of Citizen Machinery UK, as the open house will mark the fifth anniversary of the launch of our ground-breaking LFV (low frequency vibration) chip breaking software.”

    This innovative, game-changing technology is to be showcased and there will be demonstrations to explain how it has helped boost CNC machining productivity globally. The company is also offering a sneak peek at some of the projects it is working on in the newly opened Solutions Centre.

    Anyone interested in attending is invited to register via the company’s website: www.citizenmachinery.co.uk/open-house-registration

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