Successful engineering partnerships are dependent upon many factors, not least trust, innovation, class-leading quality, technical excellence and comprehensive support. By way of example, these building blocks have provided the foundation for a strong 30-year partnership between bearing manufacturer NSK Europe Ltd
and leading Italy-based machine-tool builder MCM Spa
, which is represented in the UK by sole agent Kent-based RK International Machine Tools
Together, the two companies have brought to market a number of innovations for the worldwide machining industry. The most recent example of successful collaboration has led MCM to adopt NSK’s NH series linear guides for use on newly developed vertical tool-change magazines and multi-pallet systems.
NSK has built its success on providing customers and partners with industry leading support, even in challenging conditions such as those presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the restrictions placed on travel and face-to-face meetings there is a strong engagement to ensure customer projects do not suffer and complications take a back seat.
MCM, which stands for Machining Centers Manufacturing, began trading in 1978 from its headquarters near Piacenza. The company’s first horizontal-spindle machining centre with carousel pallet changer made its market debut just a year later.
The machine tool builder, which became part of the international RIFA group in 2014, has enjoyed many successful partnerships with OEMs over the decades. For instance, notable projects in the 1980s included those with a luxury sports car manufacturer and a brake specialist. In the 1990s, significant numbers of aerospace primes also began taking advantage of the performance levels provided by MCM solutions.
Innovation proved central in all of these projects, a company attribute that remains to this day. Among MCM’s considerable machining centre developments is the Jet Five, which is available in X-axis configurations from 3 to 12m. The machine boasts significant chip-removal capacities and feed rates of up to 40m/min. This ground-breaking machine large components, even in particularly hard-to-cut materials, with milling cutters up to 400mm in diameter.
All MCM machining centres are available in four-axis and five-axis versions, and are configurable for multi-tasking operations, such as milling, turning, grinding and power skiving. Automated systems for the handling of workpieces, pallets and tools are an integral part of the range.
The machines are configurable with a single pallet, pallet exchanger, multi-pallet system or integrated in an FMS (flexible manufacturing system).
Giampietro Mantica, NSK application engineer (European industrial business unit), said: “Although this time period has seen many advances and changes in technology, the aim has remained constant — addressing the technical challenges of the sector and delivering the opportunity for MCM to achieve long-term market success.
“Over the past three decades, NSK has stood side-by-side with MCM, providing the necessary innovations in linear motion – both ball screws and linear guides – and the associated engineering support.”
This approach has seen NSK retain its preferred supplier status for a number of key machine assemblies. As a case in point, 2020 saw NSK NH linear guides (size 25 and 35) specified on MCM vertical tool-change magazines and multi-pallet systems. In such applications, the need exists to move often large, heavy loads quickly (up to 75m/min) and reliably.
MCM’s Covid-safe visit to NSK’s European headquarters in Ratingen, Germany, last year, aided the decision to select these highly effective, long-life linear guides. Complemented by exemplary interdisciplinary cooperation between NSK’s technical and commercial departments, MCM placed its first orders for the NH series.
NSK’s high-quality, low-noise NH linear guides offer many benefits, including long service life due to the inclusion of innovative features like specially developed ball groove geometry.
In addition, up to 30% more dynamic load rating provides twice the fatigue life of previous generation products, while a self-aligning feature minimises internal loads and accommodates misalignment.
This latter attribute proves especially useful when MCM develops multi-station, multi-pallet machining lines. Furthermore, the particular design of the NH series means MCM can easily join guide rails together if required, providing a further technical advantage.
The assembly and cutting of NSK NH/NS series linear guides takes place in Europe to ensure timely deliveries to customers across the continent.Machinery Market
took part in a press visit organised by RK International to MCM's headquarters in 2019 (see the report here