5-axis machining centre reduces production time by 75%

Author / Editor: Chris Wright / Briggette Jaya

UK - Machining tool steel die nests is a complex operation at the best of times. A particularly intricate job used to be a loss-making operation for a UK-based toolmaking firm. But now the purchase of a 5-axis machine is said to save enough time to make the process profitable.

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Close-up of Op 2 in progress on a P20 tool steel die nest.
Close-up of Op 2 in progress on a P20 tool steel die nest.
(Source: Hurco)

Toolmaking and subcontract CNC machining specialist DSM-NE has increased its stock of Hurco machining centres to seven, including a large three-axis model and a 5-axis machine.

One job in particular is said to have benefited from the arrival of the bigger machining centre. A tool steel (P20) die nest, part of a progression moulding machine, initially took 75 hours to machine in six separate set-ups on a Hurco three-axis model (although, according to DSM-NE’s technical director Andrew Wilson, the cycle would have reduced to 50 hours after process optimisation).

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The same job is now claimed to take a Hurco VMX60SRTi 5-axis machine two operations of five hours and eight hours respectively. This is around one-quarter of the best possible time on a 3-axis machine and has turned what was originally a loss-making contract into profit.

Mr Wilson explained, “We looked first at fitting a 2-axis compound rotary table to a 3-axis machine because nobody here had experience of operating a full 5-axis machining centre.

“However, we saw the VMX60SRTi demonstrated at a Hurco open house in High Wycombe last year and were impressed at how easy it is to program. We were familiar with the 2D programming capability of Hurco’s WinMAX conversational CNC system, but it can also create quite complex 3D / 5-axis routines involving two positional axes, which takes only a few days to master.”

For fully interpolative 5-axis cycles, DSM-NE employs two seats of Delcam’s Powermill, which are also used for producing more complex three-axis routines. However, half of all programs at Newton Aycliffe are generated on the shop floor at the Hurco WinMAX controls.