Embracing sub-contract machining

Lancashire company finds the ‘Perfect’ grinding solution for a large variety of work

Posted on 30 Apr 2018 and read 692 times
Embracing sub-contract machiningAshton Jig & Tool was founded 60 years ago by the father of current managing director Jon Clifton, whose son Ben is now ‘waiting in the wings’ to carry on this family business, which has changed considerably over the years.

As the name implies, it originally provided precision tool making, supplying press tools — as well as jigs and fixtures — to local industry.

Following a gradual move into CNC machine tools, temperature-controlled quality control and EDM (both spark and wire erosion), Ashton now supplies a diverse range of customers across the UK, including those in the oil and gas, nuclear and pharmaceutical sectors.

Mr Clifton said: “While press tooling is a small part of our business, we still work to the same exacting standards in terms of quality and tolerances for our precision sub-contracting work.

“Quality remains paramount to us, as does price, so we have to work efficiently — and invest where necessary.”

It was the need to invest to meet a customer requirement that saw Ashton contact Erith-based RK International Machine Tools Ltd (www.rk-int.com), when it needed larger grinding capacity for a specific job.

This resulted in an order being placed last September for a Perfect PFG-50150AHR column-type surface grinder with a 500 x 1,500mm table.

In addition to the larger capacity, the Perfect machine offered greater levels of control and production flexibility, due to the ability to program rough and finish cuts for both depth of cut and number of passes.

Furthermore, an auto shutdown facility allows an element of unmanned operation, as the machine will switch itself off when the required number of passes has been completed.

“Having this auto shutdown feature is a major benefit; we are confident to be able to walk away and leave the machine running, giving us extra production hours.”

Rapid response


While this first Perfect grinder was being built in Taiwan, Ashton faced more grinding pressure when an old machine it had been using for many years, ‘blew up’ beyond economic repair.

Mr Clifton needed to replace this lost capacity as quickly as possible and again called RK International.

“Given the urgent need for a replacement machine, we were relieved to hear that the company had a Perfect PFG-D4080AH saddle-type surface grinder in stock.

RK 1“With its 400 x 800mm table, it was ideal for what we needed — and we could have it delivered within three days of our initial phone call.”

With the machines now installed adjacent to each other, the operators — including Mr Clifton’s son — quickly came to terms with the control systems.

Indeed, the machines were being programmed and operated to their full capability within a couple of hours, achieving tolerances and a quality of finish described as “exceptional” in comparison to the previous machine.

“The availability of the 1µm read-out and total elimination of any bounce when pitching across on the larger machine has given us the results that we wanted,” said Mr Clifton.

“We are now able to better manage our production due to the consistency that we can grind to, even on materials such as 17-4PH stainless steel.”

The saddle- and column-type machines from Perfect share similar features, including ‘optimised construction’ using high-quality cast iron, and the stress relieving of major components to ensure maximum rigidity, stability and machining accuracy.

The slideways feature a coating of Turcite-B, which ensures smooth motion and longevity of the slides.

Meanwhile, the cartridge-type spindles feature class-P4 high-precision angular-contact bearings and achieve a run-out accuracy of 2µm — plus they are sealed and lubricated for life.

Both types of machine can also be fitted with the optional AD5 automatic down-feed system; this makes them fully automated for additional productivity gains.

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