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600 UK has completed an order to supply nine Fanuc Robodrill A-T21iFL high-speed CNC machines to UK precision metal components manufacturer Micro Metalsmiths.

Part of 600 Group, 600 UK supplied the machines on behalf of Fanuc’s European sales, service and support headquarters in Germany.

Based at Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, 600 UK operates a full distribution partnership with Fanuc in the UK, providing technical support to customers.

The Robodrills, equipped with Fanuc’s latest-generation FS-31iA5 CNC controls and capable of spindle speeds of up to 24,000rev/min for high-precision drilling, form the centrepiece of a centralised machining facility at Micro Metalsmiths’ Pickering production centre nearby.

They replace 13 older 10,000rev/min machines, which remain at the site.

The company specialises in the design and manufacture of microwave components for the aerospace, military and telecoms markets.

Its other principal business stream is the in-house investment casting – and subsequent machining – of small metal components.

Both divisions depend on the highest standards of machining accuracy, quality, reliability and efficiency (including, in some instances, high-speed machining over long unattended ‘lights out’ production runs).

Micro Metalsmiths selected the latest-generation Robodrill A-T21iFL model for its new machining facility after extensive testing and analysis of the machine’s capability in all production phases, especially long unattended runs.

These were deemed essential to increase annual machining hours and so achieve the best possible ‘cost per hour’ of machining operations.

‘After tests with several machine tool candidates, we determined that the latest Fanuc Robodrill – effectively a very high-accuracy C-frame milling machine – could handle the work with minimal risk of cutter breakage or damage,’ said Christopher Shaw, the company’s chairman and managing director.

The company ascribes this to the very latest Fanuc model FS-31iA5 control that provides highly accurate control of acceleration rates and allows for 12-hour cycles with 2mm cutters at 24,000rev/min.

In recent tests, its capability has been extended to the drilling of 1.2mm holes and to the thread milling of 1.5mm threaded holes even in difficult alloys such as Invar.

The Fanuc A-T21iFL has axis travel lengths of 700mm (X-axis), 400mm (Y-axis) and 330mm (Z-axis) and a maximum tool length of 250mm.

The versatility of the machine, designed to provide solutions to a wide variety of machining applications, including milling, tapping, boring, drilling and profiling, is demonstrated in the detailed specifications of the machines supplied to Micro Metalsmiths.

Four are standard machines with 24,000rev/min spindle speeds, while one is configured with a Nikken 4th-axis unit, two have additional Nikken 4th and 5th-axis units and a further machine is equipped with a Fanuc DDR 4th-axis unit.

These upgraded control facilities enable simultaneous contouring, which is particularly useful for multi-surface machining of small, complex components.

Additionally, each machine is equipped with Renishaw spindle-mounted probing equipment and with Renishaw laser checking of tool diameter and length.

This equipment was specified and project managed by 600 UK and is instrumental in maintaining accuracy, reducing mistakes and increasing utilisation.

In use, the machines are occupied in machining close tolerance investment castings during the day in attended operation.

At night they are operated unattended on long-cycle microwave components or on single billet multiple part set-ups.

The resulting high-efficiency regime allows Micro Metalsmiths to offer further capacity to outside customers for long run unattended work at competitive prices.

The aim is to work the machines for more than 6,000 hours per year, which is well within the capabilities of the Robodrill machines.

The largest of three advanced machines in the Robodrill range, the A-21iFL has high rigidity construction for optimum high-precision machining.

High-speed axis feed, high-speed spindle operation and optimal acceleration and deceleration control provides efficiency and reduced cycle times.

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