Machining Equipment VMC family supports subcontractor’s rapid growth

Editor: Eric Culp

A commitment to equipping its shop floor with Hurco machining centres has paid off for a company with diverse mould and part making capabilities.

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The quality of the moulds coming off the machines is said to be excellent, and the mirror finish reportedly requires hardly any polishing.
The quality of the moulds coming off the machines is said to be excellent, and the mirror finish reportedly requires hardly any polishing.
(Source: Hurco)

DW Engineering has rapidly expanded its contract machining business since its founding in 2005. The Scottish subcontractor owes its success largely to a willingness to undertake projects of any size for clients in many industries, and to its ability to machine diverse metal and plastic materials. However, says owner David Watt, another important factor is its exclusive use of Hurco vertical machining centres (VMCs) for prismatic metal cutting.

Watt praises the Hurco machines for allowing fast, accurate shop-floor programming and easy importation of externally prepared data. “The machines have been central to our ability to offer top-quality work, quick turnaround and attractive prices,” he says.

The company services the gas-sensing, medical, aerospace and oil and gas sectors primarily, machining injection moulds for plastic components—this accounts for 15% of turnover—and performing direct machining of parts. It routinely achieves machining accuracies of ±0.1 mm and holds drawing tolerances down to ±10 µm for some parts.

Some contracts are exacting. A job recently won back from the Far East involves machining an array of 750 aluminium gas-sensor parts from aluminium plate. Three fine-pitched M3 x 0.25-mm tapped holes are produced in each part. Milling, drilling and tapping operations are carried out on a Hurco VM10, after which the individual components are separated from the plate and transferred in batches to a Hurco VM1 for second and third operations.

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Watt first gained experience with Hurco machines when he operated a VMC and a knee mill in his father’s subcontracting business. This exposure to the user-friendliness and power of the Hurco CNC system encouraged him to standardise on Hurco VMCs when he started his own company. By the time he acquired the VM10 in 2010, the control that earlier impressed him had become more powerful with the introduction of much-expanded functionality and adoption of the Windows OS.

The Swept Surface feature in the WinMax software suite is particularly useful to DW Engineering. With it, complex mould tool machining cycles with advanced cutting strategies can be generated in one conversational data block by sweeping a 2D surface over a contour. “It is unbelievably quick,” says Watt, “and the continuous tool path generates a very smooth surface finish.”

DW Engineering makes moulds for a Scottish company that supplies plastic cable joints used on subsea control pods and camera mounts. Each half of the aluminium injection mould spends several hours on a Hurco machine, as the tool paths for the ball-nose milling cutters performing the finishing passes include very small step-overs. According to Watt, the quality of the moulds coming off the machines is excellent: the mirror finish requires hardly any polishing. Each mould produces about 5,000 of the joints.

Programming is invariably done on the shop floor in WinMax owing to its simplicity.

Hurco Europe Ltd.

High Wycombe, Bucks, UK