Congleton-based Investment Castings uses the lost-wax process, which begins with a tool maker producing an aluminium die.
The company was founded by Brian Clarkson 30 years ago; his sons, Paul and Dave, now head up a team of 20, including a full-time tool maker and his apprentice.
The factory was expanded in 2010, and the old CNC machine used to produce the aluminium dies was replaced by a Haas
Super Mini Mill.
Within a year, a second Super Mini Mill had arrived, and Investment Castings now has five CNCs — all from the Haas Mini Mill range (www.haas.co.uk
Company secretary Suzanne Clarkson said (www.investment-castings.co.uk
): “We chose Haas after being impressed by them at trade shows.
The first machine made a huge difference to our business in terms of the complex machining services we could offer — and it reduced the lead times for tool production.
"Haas makes a small machine, which was ideal for the space we have; five small machines are more efficient than two large machines in the same space.”
The company’s list of 300 customers ranges from Bentley and Aston Martin to manufacturers of hospital hoist systems and even sword guards and pommels (used in battle re-enactments).
“We also do a lot of rapid prototyping, especially for the automotive industry, F1 and Indy Car teams.
“This allows customers to trial new designs very quickly and helps us to win orders for permanent tooling.
“We leave machines to run overnight and can make multiple tools at once now.
“And with the 10,000rev/min spindle and 20+1 high-speed tool changer, our lead times are massively reduced, while the quality increases.
“We can achieve far better finishes on parts and tools because of the high-speed spindles.”