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Cheshire-based Asgard Engineering, which serves the medical, electronics, aerospace, nuclear, food and pharmaceutical industries, uses three CNC sliding-headstock bar automatics from Star Micronics.

In the past, the company relied on Star’s engineers to program the first jobs and advise over the telephone when Asgard got into difficulty.

The machines are programmed offline, but not on a high-end computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) system, so Asgard still requires some help from Star.

For example, polar interpolation was recently needed to simplify milling around the contour of a part.

Asgard emailed a drawing to Melbourne and the code was sent back straight away to allow the job to be set up quickly.

The company has 16mm-, 20mm- and 3mm-capacity sliding-head lathes – one of each of the main sizes.

Asgard owner Ian Hampton bought the first machine outright in 2004 – a Star SB-16C that he regards as an excellent value-for-money, entry-level slider.

He said: ‘It shows just how cost effective a modern CNC machine can be.

‘It is ideally suited to manufacturing parts between 2mm and 16mm in diameter.

‘The high-speed rapids, together with fast processing, help to reduce idle times and increase production efficiency,’ added Hampton.

The subcontractor subsequently acquired an SR-20R III sliding-headstock lathe, which has the capability to enhance production and accuracy for medium-complex components.

Versatility is increased by a range of tooling options, including angular drilling, gear hobbing, deep-hole drilling and thread whirling.

The latest Fanuc 300is control coupled with Star’s motion control software makes the machine extremely productive, according to Hampton.

In 2006, the Star SR-32J arrived for the production of components measuring up to 32mm in diameter.

The machine’s fully independent counter spindle with C axis assists in creating greater overlapping opportunities, helping to reduce cycle times.

The recently designed F40 collet sleeve has extended the machine’s capacity to allow components measuring up to 36mm in diameter to be machined.

In addition to serving the industries already mentioned, Asgard is active in the production of pumps, valves and fasteners.

Mill-turned parts are produced to tolerances as tight as 10 microns in most types of stainless steel, including aerospace and medical grades, as well as nickel and titanium alloys, Fenico and other specialist alloys.

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