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Formaplex has invested in its second Gruppo Parpas five-axis milling machine from Matsuura Machinery in less than 12 months.

Around 20 per cent of Formaplex’s business comes from Formula One teams, for whom it provides a rapid turnaround engineering service.

Running 24/7, the company utilises unmanned CNC milling technology supplying prototype components, master patterns and rapid tooling solutions across a wide spectrum of industries, including motorsport, aerospace, automotive, medical, telecommunications and industrial OEM product producers and manufacturers.

Formaplex identified the Famu Active 5 machine as the ideal solution to fulfil its selection criteria as well as offering the path to new growth, increased capacity, capability and flexibility.

The Active 5 is a bespoke, five-axis high-speed machine with a fixed portal and a 3050 x 1100mm table.

It is said to be more than able to accommodate large, heavy and unwieldy components and billets up to 5000kg in weight in an ergonomic footprint measuring 8160 x 2900mm.

Two of the five axes are contained within the head configuration, offering movements of 380-deg in the C-axis and +110/-110 in the A-axis.

X-, Y-, and Z-movements are 3000 x 1800 x 850mm, while the spindle speed on the Formaplex machine is 22000rev/min.

The Active 5 is predominantly engaged in cutting aluminium – mostly manufacturing injection moulds for Formaplex’s moulding division.

Chris Carter, operations director at Formaplex, said: ‘We work our machines 100 per cent of their available uptime; they have to be fit for purpose to maintain our production schedule and workloads – downtime for us is a complete disaster.

‘We had a few minor teething problems with the Active 5, but nothing that was not quickly sorted.

‘Our management team predicted some time ago that we would need more five-axis capability, and the complex nature of the shapes and forms we produce required a five-axis machine that is durable, versatile and capable – the Active 5 gives us all that and the capacity to grow.

‘The surface finish achieved on the Active 5 is superb – we have eliminated hand finishing on the majority of our mould and die work,’ he added.

The Active 5 is situated in Formaplex’s machining division.

Ben Yule, works manager of Formaplex’s machining division, said: ‘The machining division cuts 99 per cent aluminium.

‘We need to put up a rough sawn block and fully automate the machining process to run completely unmanned and produce the finished article.

‘The Active 5 does it all for us, from roughing to utilising 1.0mm diameter ball nose for high-definition finishing work ‘Our problem now is that every job is funnelling towards the Active 5 because of its capability and the time it can save us – hence the order for the second Active 5.

‘On one specific job, with angled slides with compound angles, we could be there for a whole shift clocking the job up.

‘The Active 5, utilising the full five-axis capability completes the job in one hour 15min,’ he added.

The second Active 5 machine will be installed at Formaplex in early August 2010.

Matsuura Machinery

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