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A precision subcontractor has installed Citizen CNC turn-mill centres to help manage the increase in production of more complex components in difficult materials.

‘Customers are now combining so many different features into a part that modern production engineering often requires a totally different approach, involving lateral thinking to create a competitive edge,’ said Joe Martello, managing director of Roscomac Sited on the south coast in Worthing, the company has seen GBP2.3m injected into machine tool investment during 2010.

A further GBP1.5m has been invested this year at a subsidiary company based in Brno, Czechoslovakia, where 14 CNC machines plus a 75-pallet FMS and robotic-loaded machining centres have been installed.

This year, two Citizen CNC sliding-head turn-mill centres were purchased and between September and November, seven high-performance machining centres and an FMS cell is being installed at Worthing.

Martello is also relaying the machine shop, resealing the whole factory floor, installing low-energy lighting and putting in a new central extraction system for the nine Citizen CNC sliding-head turn-mill centres that run on cutting fluid.

From past experiences, Martello has adopted the same working relationship with machine tool and equipment suppliers as his long-term customers have with his business.

This has meant the larger lathe and machining centres are supplied by just three companies and small parts up to 32mm diameter turn-milling by just one – Citizen Machinery UK of Watford, with which Roscomac has built a relationship up over 15 years.

In August, a Citizen A32 was installed alongside existing M32-V, M16 and M12s, a mid-range L32 and another earlier purchase of a K16-VI.

Each machine is fitted with the Citizen 2,000psi Cool Blaster high-pressure coolant system.

The Citizen Machine Group supervisor Tim Osman views the Citizen machines as high-productivity systems.

‘We typically produce batches of up to 1,000 parts, often in difficult materials such as stainless steel 303 and 316 and Inconel,’ he said.

‘Sometimes due to demand for samples to meet pre-production requirements, this can mean batches are produced having less than 10 parts,’ he added.

Commenting on the recent Citizen A32 installation, Osman said: ‘While the other Citizen machines are easy to program, the software development and control on the A32 has moved on and is especially quick and simple to use.

‘Also, the tool layout makes changeover very easy.’ he added.

He has already reset 18 jobs within just four weeks of the machine being installed.

While the A32 does not have the flexibility of the 80 tool, double Y-axis Citizen M32 to optimise cycle times on very complex components – it saved 20 per cent from the cycle time of the very first component transferred from the M32.

Osman cut and pasted the program for the Inconel aerospace component, used the same proven speeds, feeds and cutting tools but immediately slashed eight seconds from the cycle time.

This was purely achieved by eliminating, reducing non-cutting time elements, such as tool positioning.

Also contributing was the ability to overlap certain parts of the cycle and using the faster acceleration/deceleration to 32m/min rapid traverse.

Citizen Machinery

Citizen is the world leader in CNC sliding head ‘one-hit’ turn-milling technology. It has a range of machines having a maximum bar capacity between 4 mm on the compact micro-machining capable Citizen R04 to 32 mm on the top of the range Citizen M32-VII which has the added capability of two Y-axis cross-feeds.   

The M32 can carry up to 80 tools, of which 20 can be driven, and can cut with three tools simultaneously giving low cycle times and high levels of productivity.  Also, fully automated unmanned cycles can be utilised through an integrated gantry option and conveyor system that helps ensure damage free parts during uninterrupted batch production.  A high pressure 2,000 psi CoolBlaster coolant system is a further option to optimise swarf control, tool life and machining difficult materials.

Following the acquisition in Japan in 2008 of 65 per cent shares in Miyano, the fixed head turning centre specialist, the two companies are maintaining their separate high profile brand names utilising a single sales operation.  However, turn-milling solutions from bar up to 64 mm diameter can now be provided.  In addition, with the Miyano range of turning and turn-milling machines for chucking operations, cell-type applications can now be accommodated with a wide range of automation options.   

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