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Welwyn Garden City-based Unicut Precision has won a long-term vendor-managed inventory agreement for producing 45 different high-precision shafts for use in flow-control devices.

Due to the company’s development of a dedicated cell around a Citizen M20 CNC sliding head turn-mill centre, Unicut is now able to produce up to six totally different component types, depending on batch size, in a single day, on the one machine.

‘While such contracts involve considerable up front planning, application development and strict management of any stockholding, we are able to supply parts in days or sometimes within hours following the customer calling for components,’ said Jason Nicholson, joint managing director.

The complete range of flow-control valves are all made from single-size 10mm-diameter stainless-steel bar and vary from 4-9mm diameter and 75-140mm in length.

While each component has a wide variety of differently turned features, including some with threads, each has a conical end that provides a metal-to-metal sealing feature that has very strict tolerances and involves a series of optimised angles to assist flow requirements.

Each component has roundness tolerances within 0.005mm TIR, has to be straight within 0.03mm and have overall surface finish requirements of 0.4 micrometres CLA.

These components are designed for continuous production on the Citizen sliding head machines.

In order to achieve batch requirements that can vary between 20 and 600 parts, Unicut’s application team maximised the utilisation of the Citizen M20, which can carry up to 80 tools, to produce all parts from just one setting.

By compiling a series of macros linked to each part number, change over is a simple process of feeding in the relevant part code to the Citizen control and pushing cycle start for immediate selection of the appropriate cutting tools.

Cycle times vary between 45 and 80 seconds.

Consistency of production throughout the batch is also important and with non-contact measurement, provided by the latest roundness and surface-finish checking equipment in the Unicut quality lab, the company can now predict trends and strategic tool changes for uninterrupted unmanned running at night.

Unicut developed a similar cell production solution for a made-to-order contract around its recently installed Mazak Integrex 100-IVST turn-mill centre.

This machine produces a family of 46 different components around-the-clock from bar with fully automatic unmanned changeover of the machine.

Unicut Precision

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