Machine tools

Bridgeport machine takes model approach

Rapid prototyping company Symac has installed a Bridgeport VMC 1000 machining centre to meet the needs of customers who supply 3D models instead of drawings of parts they want made.

The machine uses digitised data created from models on the machine by a high-speed scanning head. It also accepts CAD/CAM data in various formats, deliverable by e-mail or tape, and was chosen for its rigidity and accuracy, speed and flexibility.

The VMC1000 has a Heidenhain TNC 426 CNC controller with 4 milliseconds block processing speed and 128 block look-ahead capability for high-speed contouring.

It is being used to machine a wide variety of materials including soft pattern board, aluminium and cast iron.


Citizen has upgraded its top-selling B12 CNC sliding head automatic lathe to make it faster and more flexible.

Features include an optional 25% increase in spindle speed to 15,000rpm on the 2.2kW spindle version. The servomotor-driven sub-spindle on the Type V machine has been given a 60% power boost to 0.5kW.

Simultaneous front and back-end working is available on both the Type V and Type VI machines, which carry up to 13 tools.


Opto-electronics company Heidenhain has developed a measurement system for static and dynamic testing and calibration of machine tools.

The VM 182 comparator system is accurate to 1 micron in the longitudinal and 1.5 microns in the transverse direction. It suits machines with linear traverses up to 1,520mm and covers lateral movements of 1mm.


Dry cutting methods are said to be saving Japanese gear makers around 40% in production costs when cutting gear teeth on a hobbing machine without lubricant. The technology is now available in the UK through Umak, which is selling the Mitsubishi gear hobbing machines fitted with Fanuc 18-i M CNC controller and special tools.


Okamoto surface grinding machines aim to bridge the gap between creep-feed and conventional grinding technology. They are available in P-type versions for pitch or step grinding and as F-types for pitch and step grinding and contouring.

Available from 600 Centre, the CNC-415/420 machines target production of small, accurate electronic parts with pitched slots and crimping-type tooling. They also suit toolroom or production applications where full creep-feed grinding would not be economical.

All versions can be programmed to include a variable slow table feed cycle anywhere within the normal rough and finish-grinding cycles.

The aim is higher stock removal and complex profile contouring or slotting without the high capital cost of a creep-feed grinding machine.


Polar’s highly accurate, portable articulated measuring arm is designed to speed up measurement tasks that are awkward for a conventional 3D CMM where accuracy is needed.

The arm has a resolution down to 3 microns compared with around 150 microns for other portable devices. It has tooling and fixturing applications and could be used to check multiple points on a production flow line.

Polar’s arm was designed by Disc GB with DTI funding and has six degrees of freedom, using aerospace bearings for low friction precision.

Measurement data is downloaded to a portable laptop PC preloaded with Windows-based Metrosoft CM professional software.


Douglas Curtis’s carousel for dispensing parts to assembly workers is intended to save time and eliminate the risk of incorrect part selection.

The dispenser was developed for use where a measurement has to be made before the part is selected. The part may be a shim, say, to produce the correct spacing or a spring to exert the correct force.

A computer or PLC linked to the measuring device calculates the size of part required and then signals the carousel to dispense it. The dispensing hatch is positioned to suit an operator sitting at a workbench.


The NL20 is the latest addition to the Nitro-Lok range of tooling inserts, targeting ductile and cast-iron parts machining. In trials, the NL20 was used to rough a 240mm ductile iron disk at 150m/min using coolant.

Taking a 3mm deep cut, the insert was run at a 0.5mm/rev feedrate, producing 350 parts. Insert samples are available free from developer Stellram, which has applied for patents.