One-hit machining the obvious answer

Investing in a mill-turn capability saves shopfloor space

Posted on 04 Feb 2018 and read 1131 times
One-hit machining the obvious answerWith an increasing volume of work, MCC Industries Ltd and sister company Automotive Accessories Ltd needed additional turning and milling capacity.

Space was limited at their Southampton premises, so managing director Mark Cox decided that a mill-turn capability was the obvious answer.

To ensure that he selected the right machine, he laid out some key requirements: it had to be operator-friendly, easy to set up, and robust enough to maximise the capabilities of the latest cutting-tool technology on a range of materials — including stainless steel.

The machine Mr Cox subsequently selected for the company’s venture into mill-turning was a Compact Turn 65 LTY from Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (

MCC Industries and Automotive Accessories operate from the same facility.

MCC specialises in general sub-contract CNC machining, including finishing and assembly operations for a diverse customer base, with batch sizes ranging from one-offs to 1,000 or more.

Automotive Accessories is one of just two companies world-wide manufacturing H-Point Manikins and Head Restraint Measuring Devices (HRMDs) for the automotive industry; these are used in the design and testing of automotive interiors, particularly for seating systems and whiplash testing approvals to Euro NCAP standards (Automotive Accessories Manikins and HRMD units are purchased by car manufacturers and automotive design houses, as well as Euro NCAP testing facilities throughout the world).

MCC 3The ease of use of the Compact Turn 65 LTY and its Siemens 828D ShopTurn control overcame one of Mr Cox’s main issues — the lack of skilled people.

“Those with skills can command too high a salary and often have pre-conceived ideas on the best way to do things. This isn’t always the best route for companies like ours, so we invest heavily in training people, and we currently run an apprenticeship scheme.

To bridge any skills shortage, we need machines that are straightforward to set up, without compromising the capability to do exactly what we need.

“The Compact Turn 65 LTY came out on top for a number of reasons, including a 65mm-diameter through-spindle bore, live tooling and a 70mm Y-axis travel — features that allow complex components to be manufactured on one machine in a single operation.

“Previously, we had to turn and then mill components on separate machines; now they are coming off complete in a single operation, freeing up milling capacity on other machines.”

User-friendly control

From a control point of view, the Siemens 828D ShopTurn control ‘ticked many boxes’ for Mr Cox: “It is particularly user-friendly and, as with all machines supplied by XYZ Machine Tools, all the control options are ‘activated’; some machine suppliers charge these as optional extras, adding significantly to the purchase price.

“We also make full use of Siemens JobShop, which — with its on-screen prompts — makes programming a straightforward process that is simple to understand; it is further enhanced by the ‘line trace’ graphics and full 3-D graphics.

These are available for final verification of tool-paths prior to machining.”

Simplifying MCC Industries’ use of this machine was the fact that the company already had an XYZ 1020 VMC with the ShopMill version of the Siemens control; it also has an XYZ ProTurn SLX 425 lathe and an XYZ SMX 3500 bed mill — both fitted with the ProtoTrak control system.

The fact that MCC Industries had been more than happy with XYZ’s service, technical support and training certainly influenced its decision to purchase the Compact Turn 65 LTY.

MCC 2Mr Cox said: “XYZ’s service was put to the test when the machine was installed. It was a particularly tight fit, and we needed to remove an inside wall — as well as relocate our stores and inspection departments. In spite of this, everything ran smoothly, and the machine was quickly in full production.”

The Compact Turn 65 LTY comes as standard with a 17kW 4,500rev/min spindle, an all-driven 12-position VDI turret with spindle speeds up to 4,500rev/min, and a substantial box slideway construction for maximising metal removal rates.

Machining performance is also enhanced by 20m/min maximum feed rates in all axes; and over and above the standard equipment, Mr Cox specified the optional LNS Alpha 65S servo bar-feed unit, as well as a Hainbuch 65mm capacity collet chuck — creating what he describes as “a machining centre with a bar feeder”.

One particular complex component had previously needed multiple set-ups and had long been a problem job, with unacceptably high reject rates.

However, using the Compact Turn, this part is now machined complete in a single operation — and MCC Industries is achieving 100% acceptance on the parts.

“We now find that we can hold size and tolerance all day long without any variance, other than tool wear. This gives us the confidence that we can deliver on our promises to customers,” says Mr Cox.

XYZ’s managing director, Nigel Atherton, says that MCC Industries is a fairly typical customer.

“While we are installing over 1,000 machines each year, we have never lost sight of what has helped us to succeed — supporting our customers with the service and training they need to operate efficiently.

“As a result, we have many returning customers; we see it as a common-sense approach to customer service, and it is one that pays dividends for all concerned.”

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