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In 2003, engineering firm Adaero Precision Components turned to 600 Centre for a machining centre to guarantee the production of high-quality precision components.

Responding to a brief to provide high productivity, 600 Centre recommended the Fanuc T21iD vertical machining centre (VMC).

Six years on, Adaero has since purchased four of the next generation Fanuc T21iE machines and between them, the five VMCs have produced more than 1,500 completely different parts.

This has allowed Adaero to further expand its customer base, which in turn, has contributed to the company’s continued success.

Managing director Andy Dickinson, who founded the Devon-based company with his father Anthony in 1988, has a background in machine tools, so understood that purchasing the right machining centre for the job would be essential.

Engineering sales manager, Mark Pearson, said: ‘As we mostly serve the medical, optical, aerospace, hydraulic, MOD and scientific communities, it is essential that we can offer the highest levels of precision and quality.

‘In 2003, we undertook a lot of research, looking at the different machining centres available as well as at the companies that sold them.

‘We were looking for a machine that would offer high levels of productivity, flexibility, accuracy, consistency of production and reliability.’ The Fanuc T21iD VMC came recommended from 600 Centre as it fulfils these criteria and can be used for a wide variety of jobs involving milling, drilling, tapping and fluteless tapping, boring and in-cycle deburring.

Servicing offered by 600 Centre played a big part of the original decision-making process for Adaero and has also provided peace of mind; a recent quality audit has shown that not one of the machines has recorded a problem or breakdown since they were installed.

‘Our machines are key to our success, so we naturally run a regular maintenance regime,’ said Pearson.

‘For five machines to have never experienced any downtime is rare and extremely important to an organisation such as ours.’ Adaero records data by clocking jobs on and off.

This is fed back to a scheduling system that is audited on a daily basis, showing that even a complex reset can be undertaken in just 90 minutes on the Fanuc VMCs.

Pearson believes that this efficiency, combined with the Fanuc’s fast cycling, single operation style production solutions have allowed Adaero to reduce the labour intensity of each job.

Each of the VMCs has been fitted with a fourth-axis unit, which has allowed the company to undertake an array of complex projects in materials ranging from Delrin, GRP and aluminium, to stainless steel, brass and special alloys.

They have produced more than 1,500 different parts in batches of between 20 and 1,800.

Of these, 900 are still in production and more than 90 are repeat orders.

Most machining cycles involve programmed burr and sharp edge removal, which are supported by strict optical inspection regimes.

It is the Fanuc machines’ precise positioning and delicate interpolation of axes at high speed that have been such a major advantage.

This allows Adaero to maintain a consistency of edge on parts such as airway management and gas mixing devices that are used in anaesthetic equipment, beam delivery, mirror block and valve bodies used in laser marking, cutting, exciter and the beam focus system components.

Adaero has also used the T21iD and T21iEs to produce critical components using Super Duplex materials for the MOD, as well as components used in document analysis and high-pressure hydraulic systems in flight simulators.

The Fanucs have also been used for the production of a blade grip for the central rotor for a large remote-controlled helicopter.

This was milled from 60mm bar, 200mm long, using the fourth-axis unit to position each of the four blade location slots, outside profiles and extensive interpolation of axes to create the various blend radii.

‘Ultimately, the Fanuc VMCs have been a very good investment for Adaero; day-in, day-out they’ve allowed us to produce thousands of complex components to the highest levels of accuracy and quality,’ added Pearson.

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