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Oxley Developments in Ulverston has bought an SA-16 lathe, bringing the number of Star lathes it now owns to nine.

Andrew Maiden, machine shop manager for Oxley, said that in the first 10 months of operating two Star lathes installed in March 2008, they produced more than 500,000 parts.

More than 1,100 hours were saved compared with components that had been made on two of the older Stars.

The time reduction is a result of shorter machining times plus the labour saved through not having to carry out secondary operations manually, such as drilling, milling and de-burring.

It underlines the high spindle speeds and rapid axis feed rates of up to 35m/min on the Stars, models SR-10J and SR-20RII.

It also highlights their one-hit machining capability, using the counter-spindle in conjunction with the large number of driven tool positions for cross- and end-working.

Maiden pointed out three components, the production costs of which were calculated before investing in the latest Stars and again after they were installed.

In one case, 5,000 pins were turned at a rate of 15 seconds per part, compared with 30 seconds previously.

The Stars can completely mill-turn a bayonet lamp fitting in two minutes: turning alone used to take that amount of time, in addition to which 15 minutes of manual operations were needed.

A third component that requires 12 seconds’ machining time took 20 seconds to complete on a Star SW-7, even though the machine is less than 11 years old.

Pins, plugs, sockets and other electrical, electronic and electro-optic components for Oxley products are produced in batches of up to 40,000-off on the sliding-head lathes, which are set to run for 16 hours unmanned overnight.

With cycle-time reductions in the order of 50 per cent and far fewer second operations, the savings are large enough to make an impact on the manufacturer’s profitability.

A wide spread of materials is machined at Ulverston, including brass, aluminium, phosphor bronze, beryllium copper, acetyl, mild steel, stainless steel, polycarbonate and Peek, to a general tolerance of 0.05mm, although 10 microns and tighter is frequently specified on drawings and easily achieved.

Some subcontract work for third parties is also undertaken, mainly pins and connectors.

Oxley’s products are used in: night-vision lighting systems, aircraft upgrades and modifications, LED lamps and systems, optical filters and electronic components such as EMI filters.

The rail, marine, electronics and telecommunications industries are also important markets for Oxley’s systems and components.

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