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Star Micronics has revealed that subcontractor Direct Engineering has ordered a seven-axis CNC Star SR-32J sliding-head lathe to speed up steel component cutting.

‘Cutting trials on some of our steel components up to 32mm diameter showed a having of cycle times compared with our fixed-head, single-spindle mill-turning centres,’ said Robert Suffolk, managing director at Direct Engineering.

He said that his company produces parts for Caterpillar in high volumes, such as spacers and threaded tools, some of which are produced outside by sliding-head specialists.

Bringing the work in-house will save on subcontract machining costs and give Direct Engineering better control over quality and delivery times.

The order was one of four, valued at more than GBP400,000, taken on the Star stand at Mach 2010.

Bob Hunt, managing director of Star Micronics, said that many manufacturers and subcontractors are profiting by adopting sliding-head mill-turning.

Potential users broadly fall into two categories – cam auto users looking for greater accuracy and one-hit machining to reduce labour costs; and fixed-head CNC lathe users such as Direct Engineering that have begun to realise that sliding-head cycles can be much faster.

This applies to short as well as long parts, including those where the proportion of prismatic machining is high, even to the point where there is hardly any turning at all.

Mach 2010 also saw the debut of the 12-axis CNC ST-38 for machining parts up to a nominal diameter of 38mm, which is set to increase the range of sliding-head applications.

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