A five-axis Matsuura MAM72-63V machining centre machines jobs in two clampings that previously needed four/five operations on three-axis machining centres at Atlantic Precision Engineering.
Of the many subcontractors in the UK serving the growing aerospace sector, Atlantic Precision Engineering is unusual in that, since it was established in 1992, it has specialised in machining both metallic and non-metallic components, the latter accounting for one-third of throughput The range of materials machined include titanium, aluminium, steel and stainless steel, while in a purpose-built area with dust extraction, carbon fibre, plastics, structural foam and cork are processed.
Prismatic machining, mainly within a 500mm cube, accounts for four-fifths of turnover, the remainder coming from mill-turned components.
Investment of GBP750,000 in the 12 months to July 2008 saw Atlantic's floor area grow by 40 per cent, the adoption of Jobshop production control software and the installation of a Matsuura MAM72-63V five-axis machining centre.
The Matsuura MAM72-63V was the first purpose-built five-axis machining centre on site, and also the first twin-pallet-change machine.
The latter maximises spindle up-time by allowing off-line set-up of the next component, while the machine's rigidity maximises metal removal rates.
Soon after installation, the five-axis machining centre began attracting new business, justifying the investment and providing an immediate and ongoing return.
Stephen Ray, managing director of Atlantic Precision Engineering, said: 'Jobs that previously needed four or five separate operations on one of our three-axis machines are now typically produced in two clampings on the MAM72-63V.
'A batch of components we used to produce on a three-axis machining centre and then on the Matsuura three plus two-axis machine is now machined 50 per cent faster in one hit on the latest five-axis machine, taking into account the faster metal removal and elimination of inter-machine handling.' Ray added: 'Overall, I would say that the MAM72-63V has halved production times across the range components that we have transferred to it, and drastically reduced work in progress, helping us to meet our customers' cost-down expectations.' When it came to buying the machine, Atlantic looked at a number of alternative five-axis configurations, deciding that the trunnion-mounted rotary table design would be the most suitable.
Matsuura won the business owing to the subcontractor's good experience using the three plus two-axis MC-800VG2 and also due to the build quality of the five-axis machine.
The specification of Atlantic's twin-pallet-change MAM72-63V includes a 40-taper spindle with BIG Plus face and taper tooling, 760/845/610mm linear travels with 50m/min rapids, 500x500mm pallets with 360kg weight capacity, a -110/+10 deg swivelling trunnion, 120-tool magazine, Renishaw MP700 probing for component datuming and a tool breakage detection system from the same supplier.
Potentials for further investment at Atlantic Precision Engineering include the installation of another MAM72-63V five-axis machining centre to form a two-machine flexible manufacturing cell linked by an automated pallet storage system from Fastems.