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RP Tooling has purchased seven vertical-spindle, three-axis machining centres from Hurco as part of its expansion, allowing high-quality products to be delivered on time and within budget.

RP Tooling specialises in short-lead-time design and manufacture of aluminium injection moulds for producing plastic prototypes and short batch runs, typically up to 5,000-off.

Some smaller steel tools are machined for longer production runs.

The firm also makes investment tooling for the production of castings, destined mainly for export markets in Europe.

Another facet of its business is low-volume machining of bespoke jigs and fixtures, as well as components in anything from resin board to plastics, aluminium and hardened steel, predominantly for Formula 1 teams and luxury car manufacturers.

Invariably, mould design and programming are carried out off-line using ZW3D (formerly VX) CAD and NCG CAM software based on an imported solid model of the end product supplied by the customer.

A single post processor is needed for downloading machine code to all seven Hurcos via DNC links.

As the machines have similar sets of cutters resident in the tool magazines, jobs are freely interchangeable, providing considerable production flexibility.

‘Although we do not use Ultimax for programming our tools, we do find the control’s work offset feature useful when running machines unattended overnight and at weekends, which we do regularly,’ said Brett Mitchell, RP Tooling co-founder.

‘It means we can maximise productivity by fixturing multiple jobs on each machine table, as appropriate,’ he said.

‘We may import, say, three programs created on our CAD/CAM system and simply enter two additional G-codes to tell the spindle to redatum automatically after each job has finished,’ added Mitchell.

All CNC plant for prismatic machining at RP Tooling is from Hurco.

The machines work alongside a CNC toolroom lathe and various manual mills, drills and lathes and a small sparker.

There is also a 130-tonne injection-moulding press on site for proving out tools and undertaking low-volume runs for customers, and two wax presses for proving out investment tools.

The company’s next purchases will be a five-axis Hurco machining centre to expand component manufacture and speed complex profiling jobs; and a much larger DCX22 with a 1.75m Y-axis to tackle larger moulds.

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