Five-axis machining in Cornwall

Company’s latest investment allows it to increase the diversity of sectors it serves

Posted on 08 May 2018 and read 1730 times
Five-axis machining in CornwallBeing located in a picturesque part of Cornwall poses no problems to Restormel Machine growing its business, as customers from all over the UK recognise its ability to provide the on-time delivery of high-quality turned and prismatic parts.

This reputation has been achieved via on-going investment that ensures most of its machine tools are less than three years old; the company’s latest purchase is a five-axis VMC.

Barry Kennett, managing director of the business that was founded over 30 years ago, says: “As well as ensuring that we provide a high-quality efficient service, we also make sure we do not rely too much on any one industry sector.

“This has protected us — to a degree — from downturns such as that seen recently in the oil and gas sector.

“By giving our customers a high level of support, we overcome any issues with our somewhat remote location; and by continually buying better, faster and more-efficient machines, we ensure that the business can keep moving forwards.”

Already a ‘committed’ customer of Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (, with nine machines installed, Restormel Machine turned once again to XYZ when it was approached with some new work that would benefit from five-axis machining.

While the UMC-5X simultaneous five-axis machining centre is the flagship of XYZ’s VMC range, Mr Kennett didn’t feel ready to go to full five-axis machining; space was also a limiting factor.

He therefore acquired an XYZ 710 VMC, of which he already had two — one with a fourth-axis capability.

“Five-axis was definitely the next step for us, but with the pressure on space — and considering our experience with 710 VMCs — we felt that a similar machine with a Lehmann five-axis unit fitted was the right move for us.

“This met our immediate requirements and gave us other opportunities to bring in five-axis work; and while the move to five-axis machining presented us with a learning curve, it also encouraged us to review existing work that we machine using three- and four-axis machines.

“As a result, we are finding five-axis working is giving us significant improvements on cycle times.”

Significant savings

These savings are highlighted by one component that had been machined on a combination of three- and four-axis machines, with a total cycle time across the two set-ups of 2.5hr.

By transferring this part to the XYZ 710 VMC with the Lehmann five-axis unit, the cycle time was cut to just 50min.

In addition to improved machining times, having the additional axes that allow single-set-up machining also reduces work in progress, as parts are not waiting around for the next operation.

Five-axis pic 2Mr Kennett says: “Having this capability has definitely helped us to not only secure existing contracts but also win new business.”

Another benefit offered by the 710 VMC is the Siemens 840D ShopMill control. Like many businesses, Restormel says that finding the right skilled people is a challenge, albeit one that the company is addressing via apprenticeships.

“The Siemens control with its JobShop Concept helps to overcome any skill/experience issues, as it is truly conversational and provides easy-to-understand prompts for creating both simple and complex programs in the background.

“The end result can then be viewed in plan, three planes or full 3-D, providing the reassurance that a user may need before running a program.

“In fact, the control is so easy to use that the machine is operated on a regular basis by one of our apprentices; when he is not at college, he is setting, programming for five-axis working and operating the machine without any issues whatsoever.”

The 710 VMC features a work envelope of 710 x 450 x 500mm and a 760 x 430mm table, which Restormel makes full use of, with multiple set-ups on the table at any one time.

Based on a substantial cast-iron structure, the machine features box slideways on all axes. Moreover, the company says the rigidity offered by the machine — along with a 17kW 8,000rev/min spindle — allows full use to be made of current cutting-tool technology.

This cutting performance is complemented by 20m/min axis travels and a 24-station arm-type tool changer as standard.

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