Scottish Robotic Systems are investing for growth

New VMCs allow special-purpose machine builder to shorten lead times — and take on sub-contract work

Posted on 25 Dec 2018 and read 738 times
Scottish Robotic Systems are investing for growthA close look at food packaging will usually reveal words and numbers on the box or packet that provide key data regarding the contents and dates.

Moreover, it is likely that this information was put there by a print head manufactured by Scottish Robotic Systems — a special-purpose machine builder based in Perth.

Its printing systems are also widely used in the electronics industry, usually as an aid to stock management involving small electronic components that tend to be stored on reels.

The business — started in a spare bedroom by the father of current director Ross Walker — has grown to supply customers world-wide; it also has close ties to Domino Printing, a leader in ink-jet printing for the food and packaging sectors.

Scottish Robotic Systems undertakes its design, product development and manufacturing in-house — with the exception of sheet-metal work — helped by its investments over the years in machine tools from Burlescombe-based XYZ Machine Tools (www.xyzmachinetools.co.uk).

Its first XYZ machine — a ProtoTrak turret mill — was installed 20 years ago; it was quickly followed by two more. Mr Walker said: “These first mills transformed the way we went about our business.

“Before buying these machines, we would draw the various parts we needed and then put them out for sub-contract machining.

“Once the XYZ machines were installed and we could machine parts ourselves, we were able to speed-up the prototyping process and spend less time drawing parts.

“The machines saved us weeks in product development, as we could make parts quickly when we needed them, without relying on external suppliers.”

Additional capacity


While the three ProtoTrak mills are still in the workshop at Scottish Robotic Systems, they have recently been joined by two XYZ vertical machining centres — a VMC 710 and a high-speed 1060 HS.

Mr Walker said: “As our range of products developed and the pressure on lead times increased, these two machines were the next logical step in the company’s development.

Scottish robotic“Drawings for prototypes are now done using CAD systems. The files are then post-processed and downloaded to the Siemens controls of our new XYZ VMCs.

“Moreover, the speed of these machines is such that we have been able to take in some sub-contract work from other suppliers.

“Before I came to work for my father, I had no machining experience whatsoever, but having used the ProtoTrak machines, the transition to the VMCs with their Siemens controls was straightforward.

“The speed of set-up is excellent; and while we have CAD/CAM systems, we program most jobs at the machine. Programming this way is extremely easy, and we can be cutting metal very quickly.”

Speed of set-up is important to Scottish Robotic Systems, as batch sizes tend to be small, typically 20- to 50-off; but with its 17kW 12,000rev/min spindle (15,000rev/min is an option) and 43m/min feed rates in all three axes, the XYZ 1060 HS is extremely
agile when cutting metal.

Mr Walker said: “We are using the 1060 HS more and more now, as it simply does everything so quickly; and with the through-spindle coolant, we get improved surface finishes across the range of materials we process. These include stainless steels, aluminiums and plastics.”

Other standard features of the XYZ 1060 HS VMC include: a substantial cast bed weighing 7,500kg, a work envelope of 1,020 x 610 x 620mm, THK linear roller bearings on all axes (three sets on the Y axis), temperature-controlled spindle and ballscrews, 30-position tool-changer and a swarf conveyor.

Control is provided by the Siemens 840DSL ShopMill, with the Heidenhain iTNC 620/640 HSCI control available as an option.

Both control systems feature easy-to-use conversational programming, eliminating the need for G-code knowledge.

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