Upgrading machining performance at SMP

Three new VMCs help slash cycle times for Hampshire firm

Posted on 06 Feb 2018 and read 1022 times
Upgrading machining performance at SMPThe investment by Hampshire-based Sheet Metal Precision Ltd (SMP) in three vertical machining centres — bought to complement a large-capacity milling machine and an overloaded pair of older VMCs — is certainly paying dividends for the company, which provides a wide range of capabilities from one-offs and prototypes through batch work to large and technically complicated assemblies.

General manager Jim Livermore said: “In one instance, our use of a new Hartford Super HCMC 1892 vertical machining centre halved cycle times on an aerospace part (www.sheetmetalprecision.com).

“The faster speeds and feeds of all three new machines — coupled with the use of correct tooling, including Dormer indexable drills with replaceable tips — have brought about dramatic reductions in machining times when processing specific 316 stainless steel workpieces.

“Measuring about 500mm in diameter x 30mm thick, these ring-type components are produced in batches of 20-30 and are initially turned before being set up on the new Hartford.

“These parts used to take between 3hr and 3.5hr to machine but are now completed in half the time.”

The Super HCMC 1892 was supplied in 2016 — along with a Hyundai Wia F500 Plus vertical machining centre — by Sheffield-based TW Ward CNC Machinery Ltd (www.wardcnc.com), which represents both machine ranges as exclusive UK and Ireland agent.

It was the success of these two machines that prompted the subsequent investment in a Hyundai Wia 650 Plus vertical machining centre.

Mr Livermore, who has been with the company for over 10 years, said: “The need to invest in further machining capacity became obvious when our existing large-capacity milling machine and the two smaller VMCs — one with a rotary fourth axis — were seriously overloaded machining components to meet the demands of our customers throughout the aerospace, scientific research and special-purpose machinery industries, as well as agricultural and general commercial industries.”

More capacity

Operating six days a week, 16-employee SMP provides machined parts as well as sheet metalwork and welded fabrications of all sizes — some weighing up to seven tonnes.

“We needed extra machining capacity to handle the wide variety of workpieces in the large to mid-size range, and we knew that the latest machining technology would give us faster cycle times.

We looked at a number of options; and having previously received a Ward CNC stock list, we were swayed not only by the immediate availability of the machines but also by prices that would meet our budget.”

The Hartford Super HCMC 1892 has a 1,950 x 920mm table and a work envelope of 1,800 x 920 x 820mm; and importantly for SMP, it has a 26kW 6,000rev/min spindle, which can tackle a variety of materials, including 316 stainless steel.

Mr Livermore says that productivity is enhanced by the machine’s rapid-traverse rate of 18m/min in all axes and its cutting feed rate of 10m/min.

Meanwhile, the Hyundai Wia F500 Plus has an 18kW 10,000rev/min spindle, a 1,200 x 500mm table and a work envelope of 1,060 x 510 x 635mm; the F650 Plus has an 18kW 8,000rev/min spindle, a 1,600 x 650mm table and a work envelope of 1,400 x 660 x 635 mm.

Discussing his reasons for doing business with Ward CNC, Mr Livermore said: “Machines of different makes and with comparable speeds and feeds were available from other suppliers, but they did not quite meet the standard of construction that the Hartford and Hyundai Wia models offered.

“Also, they were either on relatively long delivery lead times or were outside our budget.

“The Ward CNC-supplied machines met all of my selection criteria; along with our latest investment in a new Tricon production control and shopfloor data collection, scheduling and quality management system, they will enable us not only to exceed the expectations of existing customers but also to cement the foundations for our plans for ambitious growth and expansion.”

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