Punch and die making Toolmaker punches above its weight with new grinding centre
Since its inception in 1970, AW Precision has continuously grown and evolved. The Rugby-based company is undertaking a course of continuous investment, and this has seen the manufacturer recently purchase its second Chevalier Smart-B818 III surface grinding centre from Dugard.
AW Precision is one of the leading manufacturers of punch and die products for the automotive stamping market in the UK and Europe. Since the company has to produce location flats on a lot of its products, it invested in a Chevalier machine from Dugard. Andy Whitworth from AW Precision adds: “We also produce blade punches for radiator manufacturers and the Chevalier is the ideal machine that enables us to do that.”
When asked what the requirements are of those components, Andy adds: “The location flat has to be accurate because it locates the part in the press tool. So, if that location is out, there’s going to be a big smash in the press tool. If you can imagine that the tool is working at 150 to 180 strokes per minute or maybe even faster, that is going to make a big bang when it goes wrong.” This means the company has to achieve very tight tolerances, down to ten microns and often better. This tolerance and surface finish can also depend upon the grinding wheel. To help this, the machine has automated wheel dressing. This means the manufacturer can do lights-out machining whilst maintaining consistent quality, surface finishes and attaining tight tolerances with much-improved productivity. In addition to lights out machining, AW Precision can run the parts on two machines.
“The reason we can produce parts like this is that the products are manufactured in small batch volumes, and they are all individual and different. With a machine like the Chevalier, we can do it all a lot faster. We could probably do the work on a 540 machine, but why would we want to do it on that machine when you need somebody stood there all day. On the Chevalier, we can set the machine up to run 1, 10 or 15 parts and not have an operator stand at the machine. The Chevalier machine is the way forward and it enables us to bring the price of the products down to be even more competitive against our rivals that aren’t based in the UK and are based elsewhere because we are the only UK manufacturer of this product — to this quality level.”
The attributes of the Chevalier Smart-B818 that provide the levels required by AW Precision include a high-precision cartridge type spindle equipped with four Class 7 angular contact ball bearings for heavy-duty grinding. The machine also incorporates hand-scraped and Turcite-B coated cross-feed guideways between the base and saddle that have a double-V design to provide support for full table travel. It also prevents table overhang. Likewise, the longitudinal ways between table and saddle are hand-scraped and Turcite-B coated, incorporating the double-V design that is ideal for delicate side grinding operations. All this is packed into a compact footprint that provides a 200 by 460 mm machine table and a vertical machining capacity of 406 mm.
“I would absolutely recommend this machine to companies using manual grinders. The Chevalier from Dugard is a real workhorse for us. The machines are part of our investment programme at AW Precision, and it is replacing what we have as manual format 5 machines. These machines will give us more productivity and accuracy, which is so important.”
The machine was installed in February. It arrived on a Monday and by the Friday, it was producing parts. According to Whitworth, the interface is extremely easy to use and if the company is machining just body flats, which are single operations, it could be doing multiple parts on the machine and multiple faces.
For a compact machine, the Chevalier Smart-B818 III grinding centre from Dugard has an extremely spacious work envelope. As Andy concludes: “You could be milling these parts, but the accuracy we require can only be achieved through surface grinding.”