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Express Engineering has bought a HM 1250 large-capacity Doosan horizontal machining centre from Mills CNC.

The machine was installed at Express Engineering’s Gateshead facility in June and is being used to manufacture large, complex parts predominantly for the oil and gas, power generation and aerospace sectors.

It will also help spearhead Express Engineering’s drive to secure contracts from the renewable-energy market.

The HM 1250 is a large, powerful machining centre equipped with a BT 50 37kW 6,000 rev/min spindle (three-speed gearbox) and ultra-rigid wrap-around box-ways delivering high-accuracy, optimum metal removal rates and superior surface finishes.

The machine can handle big and heavy workpieces on each of its twin pallets (up to 3000kg in weight and 2000mm diameter).

The purchase of the Doosan machine is also an integral element of a massive ongoing three-year GBP3.5m expansion programme (in plant, equipment and people) that has helped (and is helping) Express significantly increase its manufacturing capabilities and capacity.

Nigel Davison, managing director of Express Engineering, said: ‘We see our future growth and prosperity contingent on our ability to manufacture large complex parts and in developing and strengthening our position in specific sector supply chains (for example oil and gas, aerospace).

‘But to achieve these objectives and to maintain our competitive advantage, we knew we had to implement a number of strategic and significant changes to our business.

‘The first of these was to increase the size of our facility to cater for the new, larger machine tools we knew we needed, and to allow us to develop (and provide) new, in-house (often turnkey) services to customers such as: hydraulic pressure testing, clean-room assembly and hot-wire TIG weld cladding.’ Phase one of Express Engineering’s expansion programme, costing GBP2m, has now been completed and has resulted in the company building a new factory adjacent to its existing purpose-built facility.

Express has capitalised on its increased space by reconfiguring and streamlining its manufacturing operations.

It has created dedicated manufacturing cells (one five-axis cell comprises three five-axis machines).

Access to machines and transferring parts between machines has been improved and work throughput has increased as a consequence.

Extra space has been made available to house the company’s new and existing large-capacity machines and its three new Fronius hot-wire TIG welding rigs.

An integral part of the company’s first phase of expansion was to increase its manufacturing capacity and capabilities – which involved a strategic review of its machine tools and manufacturing processes and systems.

Davison added: ‘The review identified the need to replace one of our existing horizontal machines, which was becoming unreliable, causing production bottlenecks to occur.

‘We decided to replace it with a bigger capacity machine to allow us to manufacture larger and heavier components.

‘Because we work with hard and difficult-to-machine materials (alloy steels, duplex, titanium, stainless and inconel-clad components), we needed a rigid machine with high-torque spindle capability to enable us to achieve fast stock removal and to meet our stringent geometric part accuracy and surface-finish requirements (25 micron accuracy or less on milled pockets and bores; and Ra 0.8um surface finish or better).

‘To help improve productivity and increase our flexibility, and to help us machine bigger and heavier workpieces, we wanted a machine with a twin-table configuration and a machining (prismatic) envelope of 1.8m cube to match our turning capability.

‘Although the HM 1250 is a relatively new machine (in terms of its availability in the UK), we have invested heavily over recent years in Doosan machine tools (mainly large-capacity Puma lathes).’

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