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Subcontract machinist Hill Engineering has recently bought three Dugard Eagle vertical machining centres (VMC) to cope with demand for specialist sports-car parts.

This part of Hill Engineering’s business is expanding at 20 per cent a year and now counts for 60 per cent of its turnover.

Paul Hill, managing director of Hill Engineering, had been facing demands to produce more complex components, often involving detailed reverse engineering to improve an original design or to replace worn out, damaged, obsolete or service replacement items.

He was also helping to solve problems for race team and specialist car owners needing changes to components, which could include strengthening or increasing the working life of wear parts in suspension and steering joints.

This was why he bought a pair of Dugard Eagle 850 VMCs, one with a four-axis unit and a series of vices and the other with triple machine vices on its 1000 x 510mm table.

Hill had bought a smaller capacity Dugard Eagle 660 a few months earlier.

The Eagle 660 also has a fourth-axis and three vices on its table.

Hill Engineering spent about GBP500,000 on new machine tools, including the three latest VMCs, four lathes and two machining centres from C Dugard.

Hill Engineering has just used the Dugard Eagle 850 to produce a pair of re-engineered cam covers from a solid aluminium billet.

The cam covers are for a classic-car collector whose rare car caught fire and is now being re-built.

Hill said: ‘We were able to capture most dimensions from the melted remains of the damaged cast parts, fed the information into our Solid Works CAD to CAM and have completely re-machined the parts to a standard that should stand up to the most dedicated scrutiny.’ It was the compactness of the Dugard Eagle 660 and then the 850 VMCs that attracted Hill to them.

The 660 has a footprint of 2 x 2.1m and the two larger machines measure 2.3 x 2.1m.

The smaller machine has an X-axis travel of 660mm, 850mm for the larger machine, but both machine models have Y- and Z-axes of 520 x 510mm.

Each machine has a 24-tool, twin-arm tool changer, 8,000 rev/min spindle selected by Hill in preference to the 10, 12, and 15,000 rev/min options available.

Both machines have rapid traverse rates of 30m/min in X and Y and 24m/min in Z.

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